WI lead, but Gayle, Powell fall
NORTH SOUND, Antigua – Kieran Powell followed up Chris Gayle’s 14th Test hundred with his maiden before New Zealand fought back, claiming them both before tea in the first Digicel Test against West Indies on Friday here.
Gayle scored 150 and Powell made 134, as the Windies reached 352 for two, replying to the New Zealanders’ first innings total of 351, at tea on the third day.
Assad Fudadin, on 31, and Marlon Samuels, on 28, were the not out batsmen at the break, having added 48 – unbroken – for the third wicket.
A modest crowd at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground had reason to celebrate for the second time on the day, when Powell reached his hundred in the second over after lunch.
The tall, languid left-hander, a graduate from the first class of the Sagicor West Indies High Performance Centre, smashed an authoritative pull through backward square leg off Neil Wagner for his 16th four to reach the landmark, before running down the pitch, leaping and punching in the air in joy.
It was the fulfillment of the immense potential from the time he was first spotted playing for his native Nevis in the Stanford Twenty20 Tournament, which had its genesis four years ago here.
Gayle, celebrating his long-awaited return to Test whites, reached his 150 from the first delivery of the next over, when he drove his 204th ball from New Zealand’s bespectacled, champion left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori to long-on for a single.
His celebration was far more subdued than for his hundred, but he gave New Zealand something to celebrate for the first time in the innings in the following over.
Gayle tried to clear the deep mid-off fielder and was caught about five yards inside the boundary rope off Kane Williamson’s part-time off-spin.
He struck 17 fours and four sixes from 206 balls in his 307-minute stay at the crease and put on 254 for the first wicket with Powell.
It was the highest West Indies opening stand since Gayle and Daren Ganga put on 214 against Zimbabwe 11 years ago in Bulawayo.
Powell and Fudadin, another left-hander, carried West Indies to 269 for one, when New Zealand claimed the second new ball after 82 overs.
Both West Indies batsmen endured a few anxious moments, as the New Zealand bowlers gained more bounce and movement from the new “cherry”.
After reaching his hundred, Powell’s confidence had soared and reached its summit, when he struck three consecutive fours in Wagner’s 17th over.
He lofted the left-arm fast-medium bowler’s first delivery straight, slapped the second over backward point to take West Indies over the 300 threshold, and drove the third imperiously through extra cover.
Trying to repeat the previous stroke however, Powell edged and was caught behind, much to the delight of the enthusiastic Wagner, after batting 363 minutes, striking 22 fours and one six from 288 balls, and sharing 50 with Fudadin for the second wicket.
Samuels joined Fudadin and entertained the crowd in the 45 minutes remaining before the break with a few fine strokes.
He got off the mark with a tickle to deep fine leg for four off Doug Bracewell before he launched Vettori for six over long-off, following up with a handsome drive past mid-off for four off Wagner and a cut through backward point off Vettori for another four.
Samuels was fortunate when he was four however. He was halfway down looking for a single to mid-on, when Fudadin sent him back, and was relieved when Vettori missed his throw at the bowler’s end.
Fudadin kept his head however, and had the privilege of putting West Indies in the lead, when he glanced Wagner to deep fine leg for his fourth boundary.
Before lunch, Gayle, playing a Test for the first time in more than 19 months, reached his milestone and nurtured Powell closer to his, as West Indies reached 245 without loss at the interval.
He greeted Chris Martin’s first ball of the day, a short, rising delivery, with a pull high over mid-wicket for his second six to reach his hundred from 149 balls.
Gayle removed his helmet held his arms aloft in triumph for several seconds before waving his bat to the four corners of the ground in celebration.
He further celebrated, when he drove the same bowler on the up to long-off for another boundary two deliveries later.
Gayle had lofted Vettori, the former Black Caps captain, for a six over long-off to move to 95 before dispatching Martin to reach his hundred.
Powell had showed his class with a few well-executed boundaries after a 20-minute stoppage, when rain offered New Zealand temporary respite about 40 minutes after the start.
Powell struck two boundaries in Martin’s 13th over, a sweetly-timed drive past mid-on and a fierce upper cut to third man.
He moved into the 90s, when he scorched the turf with a firm sweep off Vettori through mid-wicket for his 15th four.
But it was not all one-way traffic for West Indies, as the Black Caps’ bowlers, Nick Wagner and Vettori in particular, bowled purposeful spells, and just prior to lunch, came close to making the breakthrough.
Gayle, on 142, again had a huge slice of fortune, when wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk and Ross Taylor both failed to grab a chance, after he edged playing defensively forward to Kane Williamson’s part-time off-spin.
Next delivery, Powell too, almost gifted his wicket on 95, when he popped a delivery from the same bowler just over the head of the mid-wicket fielder off the leading edge.
NEW ZEALAND 1st Innings 351
(M. Guptill 97; S. Narine 5-132)
WEST INDIES 1st Innings
(overnight 145 without loss)
C. Gayle c McCullum b Williamson 150
K. Powell c wkpr van Wyk b Wagner 134
A. Fudadin not out 31
M. Samuels not out 28
Extras (lb8, nb1) 9
TOTAL (2 wkts) 352
S. Chanderpaul, N. Deonarine, +D. Ramdin, *D. Sammy, K. Roach, S. Narine, R. Rampaul to bat
Fall of wickets: 1-254 (Gayle), 2-304 (Powell)
Bowling: Martin 16-3-92-0 (nb1); Bracewell 20-4-60-0; Wagner 21-5-88-1; Vettori 30-8-71-0; Williamson 13-2-33-1
Position: West Indies lead by one run with eight first innings wickets standing
Umpires: R. Kettleborough, P. Reiffel
TV umpire: M. Erasmus
Match referee: R. Madugalle
Reserve umpire: J. Wilson