Shane Shillingford sent a few shivers through the New Zealand dressing room before rain and their opponents’ cautious approach combined to earn West Indies a draw in the first Test on Saturday.
Shillingford, who opened the bowling, collected 4-26 from 15 overs, as the New Zealanders, chasing 112 for victory, reached 79 for four in their second innings when rain prompted the tea break five minutes than scheduled on the final day at University Oval.
The players never returned to the field, although there was a last-ditch effort by ground-staff assisted by security officers about half-hour past the scheduled close to mop up and allow the Black Caps to a chance to complete their first Test win for the year.
The result meant that the three-Test series remains level at 0-0 with the second Test due to start this coming Wednesday at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.
Shillingford, whose bowling action was investigated last week in Perth in neighbouring Australia prior to the start of this series, had failed to make a significant impact in the first innings – but he rebounded in the second innings to give the Windies a long-shot chance of victory.
Opening the bowling, the lanky off-spinner grabbed the scalp of opener Peter Fulton caught behind down the leg-side for three from a faint edge that required the video umpire to confirm, as New Zealand went to lunch on three runs for one wicket.
After the interval, Shillingford struck every four overs, removing Aaron Redmond caught at leg-slip for six, opener Hamish Rutherford caught at long-on for 20 and home team captain Brendon McCullum caught at short square leg by wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin for nine, as the New Zealanders wobbled to 44 for four.
But the Windies failed to make further inroads into the Black Caps’ batting, as Corey Anderson, not out on 20, joined Ross Taylor, not out on 16, and batted through until the rain left the host stranded with 33 required.
Earlier, West Indies had been dismissed for 507 in their second innings about 20 minutes before lunch with Darren Bravo going early for the top score of 218 and captain Darren Sammy the last wicket to fall for 80.
The visitors lost their last six wickets for 64, as New Zealand’s three fast-medium bowlers shared the wickets with Neil Wagner ending with 3-112 off 30 overs, fellow left-armer Trent Boult 2-81 off 35 overs, spearhead Tim Southee 2-101 off 29.1 overs and leg-spinner Ish Sodhi 2-155 from 49 overs.
The Windies suffered an early setback to their plans to chase an unexpected, come-from-behind victory, when Boult bowled batting hero Darren Bravo in the third over of the morning with a delivery that kept low.
Bravo, a stylish left-hander, struck 31 fours from 416 balls in just over 9 ½ hours at the crease and came close to earning the Man-of-the-Match award which was presented to hometown hero Taylor for his first innings double hundred.
Shillingford came to the crease and resisted for close to an hour with Sammy before he was caught at first slip off Wagner for 15 and Tino Best was dismissed six overs later in the same manner for three.
With Shannon Gabriel his remaining partner at the crease, Sammy tried to take things to the Black Caps’ bowlers with an eye on increasing the lead and a second Test hundred to silence the critics of his batting, but he was caught on the cover boundary off Southee to bring his innings to a close.
West Indies have not won a Test, let alone a series in New Zealand since Courtney Walsh claimed a match haul of 13 wickets and bowled them to an innings and 322-run victory inside four days 18 years ago at the Basin Reserve.
New Zealand have not won a Test since late late year when McCullum took over the captaincy, having drawn five and lost four of their matches.
NEW ZEALAND 1st Innings 609
(R. Taylor 217 not out, B. McCullum 113; T. Best 3-148)
WEST INDIES 1st Innings 213
(S. Chanderpaul 76; T. Southee 4-52)
WEST INDIES 2nd Innings (following on)
(overnight 443 for six)
K. Edwards lbw b Sodhi 59
K. Powell c Southee b Boult 14
D.M. Bravo b Boult 218
M. Samuels c and b Southee 23
S. Chanderpaul lbw b Wagner 1
N. Deonarine c wkpr Watling b Anderson 52
+D. Ramdin b Sodhi 24
*D. Sammy c Sodhi b Southee 80
S. Shillingford c Taylor b Wagner 15
T. Best c Taylor b Wagner 3
S. Gabriel not out 0
Extras (b4, lb7, w5, nb2) 18
TOTAL (all out) 507
Fall of wickets: 1-18 (Powell), 2-135 (Edwards), 3-178 (Samuels), 4-185 (Chanderpaul), 5-307 (Deonarine), 6-363 (Ramdin), 7-453 (Bravo), 8-491 (Shillingford), 9-507 (Best)
Bowling: Southee 29.1-4-101-2; Boult 35-11-81-2 (w1); Wagner 30-3-112-3 (nb2); Anderson 14-2-29-1; Sodhi 49-7-155-2; Redmond 5-1-18-0
NEW ZEALAND 2nd Innings (target: 112)
P. Fulton c wkpr Ramdin b Shillingford 3
H. Rutherford c Gabriel b Shillingford 20
A. Redmond c Deonarine b Shillingford 6
R. Taylor not out 16
*B. McCullum c wkpr Ramdin b Shillingford 9
C. Anderson not out 20
Extras (b1, lb3, w1) 5
TOTAL (4 wkts) 79
Fall of wickets: 1-3 (Fulton), 2-15 (Redmond), 3-31 (Redmond), 4-44 (McCullum)
Bowling: Best 8-1-26-0 (w1); Shillingford 15-5-26-4; Gabriel 5-1-16-0; Deonarine 2-0-7-0
Result: Match drawn
Series: Three-Test series level 0-0
Man-of-the-Match: R. Taylor (New Zealand)
Umpires: N. Llong (England), P. Reiffel (Australia)
TV umpire: I. Gould (England)
Match referee: R. Mahanama (Sri Lanka)
Reserve umpire: C. Gaffaney (New Zealand)