Sunil Narine continued his love affair with bowling at New Zealand’s batsmen, grabbing career-best figures, but another batting collapse on Saturday undermined his hard work and left West Indies in danger of losing the third Test.
Narine grabbed 6-91 from 42.3 overs, but Ross Taylor 131 – hit his third hundred of the series – as the New Zealanders were dismissed for 349 just before tea on the third day at Seddon Park to give the Windies a slender first innings lead of 18.
The Caribbean side then squandered their chance of putting themselves in an impregnable position, as the Black Caps’ pacemen, led by left-arm swinger Trent Boult with 4-23 from 10 overs, bowled them out for 103 in their second innings just before the scheduled close.
The Windies then failed to make a breakthrough, as openers Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford carried New Zealand to six without loss in two overs before stumps were drawn.
“Even though you have a good performance you still want your team to be on top,” said Narine. “We were on top before tea, but New Zealand went out there and showed us exactly how to bowl on that wicket.
“We had a target around 250 to 300 in mind to set them. I think that’s all changed, but you never know in world of cricket what may happen [the next day].
“Wickets send jitters, so hopefully, you never know if we can get a couple of early wickets and go from there. You never know what could happen.”
Narine is playing his first Test in just over a year and said there were a bit of nerves to overcome when he bowled his first over on the second day.
But he could not have chosen a better opponent against whom to make his return, having bamboozled the New Zealanders in a two-Test series last year in the Caribbean.
“Coming back to Test cricket after a while and getting a wicket in my first over calmed the nerves a little and I could settle down and continue to bowl overs,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say I have a hold on the New Zealand batsmen. At end of day, if you bowl well you tend to get wickets. I’ll just say I had a good day and hopefully have plenty more to come.
“I wouldn’t say I was surprised by the way the New Zealand batsmen have batted against me. They had a game plan and stuck to it no matter how the ball spun. They had a plan of what they wanted to do and went out and did it.”
On missing out on selection in the first two Tests, Narine said: “Shane Shillingford has been doing a fantastic job and has been the main Test spinner, so I do not think that I was demanding a spot after not dominating Test cricket, and I just had to wait for my opportunity.”
On the condition of the Seddon Park pitch, he said: “After the first two Tests, I didn’t’ think we’d have a pitch like this in a Test, but you have to make the best use of whatever surface is available and when things go your way, just try to grab it with both hands.
“I never thought that coming to New Zealand we would have played two spinners because of the nature of the pitches, so it was a bit of a surprise coming and seeing the pitch for this match, since we were expecting more green grass than dry grass.”
On being labeled a mystery spinner, Narine said: “Probably, there is a slight mystery because you do not get to choose your nickname in cricket. Spectators and the people around the game give you that nickname. It’s building on the nickname and making it last as long as you want it to.
“I would probably say I am a different type of bowler than normal. Anything in the game that’s a little different can have an impact, but the challenge is how long it lasts. I just try to keep things simple.” (WICB)