St John’s, Antigua – Centuries by Chris Gayle and Kieran Powell, and half centuries by Assad Fudadin and Narsingh Deonarine led West Indies to 442 for 6 and a lead of 91 runs at the end of the third day of the first Test against New Zealand at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, North Sound, today.
Earlier in the day, Gayle and Powell continued from where they left off yesterday and deflated the Kiwis in their marathon opening stand. Gayle, who resumed on 85, didn’t take much time to complete his 14th Test century. One would have expected a bit of nervousness early in the day, but instead, Gayle seemed in a bit of a hurry to reach the landmark. Vettori was smashed over his head to take Gayle into the 90s, and another hard hit over the deep mid-wicket boundary off Chris Martin’s first ball of the day, which came an over later, gave Gayle his century. The happiness was visible on his face – he removed his helmet and displayed a broad smile, much to the delight of his team-mates and the crowd assembled at the stadium.
Gayle switched gears after the century and that seemed to have an effect on his partner Powell’s game as well. Both batsmen gathered runs at a fast pace, leaving Ross Taylor short of ideas. A chance did come their way – a ball from Williamson hit the rough, spun and bounced to take Gayle’s outside edge only to be dropped by the skipper himself at first slip. Gayle was on 142 then, and by the time the teams went for lunch a couple of overs later, West Indies had raced to 242 for no loss, amassing a total of 100 runs in the first session alone.
Powell’s lunch would have been hard to digest as he was batting on 96, just four short of a maiden Test century. The moment came in the second over after the break, and in style. A short ball from Wagner was pulled to the deep square leg fence to bring up his maiden Test century – a well paced knock which complemented Gayle’s to perfection. More celebration awaited West Indies and their fans in the very next over, as the Gayle marathon continued and he reached 150. However Gayle fell in the very next over, holing out to long-off looking to smash Williamson for a six, ending a mammoth 254-run opening stand.
ip in scoring rate
Powell was joined by Fudadin and the scoring rate took an immediate dip after the departure of Gayle. The duo consolidated for the next few overs as New Zealand tried to add some pressure, but Powell shifted gears suddenly and a barrage of boundaries flowed from his bat. West Indies were nearing 300, and the intent of gaining some quick runs was clear from the way Powell changed pace suddenly. However, the search for quick runs proved to be his undoing. Powell smashed Neil Wagner for three consecutive boundaries and perished while going for a fourth – edging a wide delivery to give the debutant his first Test wicket. Marlon Samuels came in with a positive mindset and maintained the momentum, scoring at a good pace. West Indies lost the openers in the second session but went into tea well and truly on top at 352 for two.
The tea break seemed to help New Zealand who started the third session with a bang. Chris Martin, who was expensive until then, threatened a turnaround by striking off consecutive deliveries. He first bowled Samuels for 29 off the last ball of his 17th over, and then got the bigger fish – Shivnarine Chanderpaul with a short ball off the first delivery of his next. Chanderpaul, who was probably not too used to walking in with such a good platform (355 for 3), fell for a first ball duck – his third against New Zealand. The quick wickets gave a wonderful opportunity for Fudadin and Deonarine to show their ability, and they did a decent job of that.
The duo put on a steady 55-run stand before part-timer Williamson struck again, dismissing Fudadin after he went past his maiden Test half-century. Denesh Ramdin didn’t last long, chopping Doug Bracewell onto his stumps. The day ended with Deonarine heaving left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori over mid-wicket for a boundary, capturing the West Indies’ dominant position in the Test.