Roach reaps rich rewards as WI win
North Sound, Antigua – Kemar Roach enhanced his reputation as one of the leading fast bowlers in world cricket with a superb five-wicket haul to bowl West Indies to victory over New Zealand in the first Digicel Test match on Sunday.
He took five for 60 off 23.2 overs on a batsman-friendly surface at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, as the visitors were bowled out for 272 in their second innings. It was Roach’s fifth five-wicket haul in Test cricket and he ended the match with seven wickets for 115 runs.
This left West Indies with 102 for win and they erased the target in the final session of the final day to win by nine wickets and take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series. Chris Gayle hit 64 not out in the second innings to follow up his first innings 150 as the home side motored to victory.
Roach, who started the day with one wicket, broke the back of the Black Caps’ second innings when he had Ross Taylor leg-before wicket and knocked over Kane Williamson’s off stump before lunch.
He returned with the new ball after the interval to have nightwatchman Neil Wagner caught behind and ended the innings when he bowled Kruger van Wyk.
“It was hard work out there...very hard work, but I am thrilled I put my hand up for the team and delivered a good victory. Winning is great. I think I will have a very good night’s sleep tonight,” the 24-year-old said.
“When you look at the pitch, it was good for batting throughout the match and we were banking on Sunny (Sunil Narine) to get the bulk of the wickets today and win the match for us. He bowled extremely well in the match and was great in both innings, but today was my day and I seized the moment. Ravi (Ravi Rampaul) was a warrior out there for us today as well. He was carrying a niggle but he kept running in and worked hard. He offered me some great advice and I’m thankful for that.”
Roach added: “The plan today was to bowl on one side of the wicket and look to build pressure. We believed that would lead to the wickets. In the first session they did not score many runs and then after lunch we took our opportunities. It was a good team plan and it worked out very well today for us.”
Narine, the off-spinner in his second Test, ended with eight wickets in the match and was named the Digicel Man-of-the-Match. Rampaul took two wickets in each innings. Sunday’s effort took Roach to 34 wickets at an average of 22 runs apiece in six Test matches this year - the fourth most in the world.
Earlier this year, he demonstrated his ability with a 10-wicket match haul against Australia at Queen’s Park in Trinidad on another unresponsive pitch. That performance catapulted him into the Top 20 in the International Cricket Council’s Test match bowling rankings.
“This pitch was much harder to bowl on than in Trinidad. It was tough work in Trinidad, but here the pitch was just flat and quite good for the batsmen. The key was to get it straight and keep it straight. As the ball got older and softer I noticed the batsmen found it harder to score so I just stayed on top of off stump,” said Roach.
“When I got the new ball after lunch I knew that was an opening and I just ran in hard and hit my areas. I work a lot on that in the nets and I got it ‘just right’ here.”
The two teams will travel to Jamaica on Monday for the second and final Digicel Test match, which bowls off on Thursday at Sabina Park.