[www.inewsguyana.com] – Half-centuries from veteran left-hander Shiv Chanderpaul and talismanic opener Chris Gayle did little to distract from West Indies struggles, as New Zealand installed themselves as heavy favourites to win the opening Test at Sabina Park.
Chanderpaul stroked an attractive unbeaten 84 and Gayle, 64, in his 100th Test but the Caribbean side were repeatedly hurt by bursts from seamer Tim Southee and debutant off-spinner Mark Craigg, and collapsed to 262 all out.
Southee, the persistent right-armer, was brilliant with four for 19 while Craig found traction from the flat surface and finished with four for 91.
With a lead of 246, New Zealand made heavy weather of their second innings, stumbling to 14 for two at the close – a lead of 260 heading into Wednesday’s penultimate day.
They were undone by key strikes from fast bowler Jerome Taylor who claimed Peter Fulton without scoring to a catch by wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin diving in front first slip, and new ball partner Kemar Roach, who prised out Kane Williamson for two, bowled offering no shot for the second time in the match.
Resuming the day on 19 without loss in response to New Zealand’s massive 508 for seven declared, West Indies openers Gayle and Kieran Powell did well to weather a testing first hour against Southee and left-arm seamer Trent Boult.
Gayle and fellow left-hander Powell seemed to be laying the foundation for a respectable response, when they put on 60 for the first wicket.
However, the introduction of Craig changed the tone of the morning session as he removed Powell for 28 and Kirk Edwards without scoring, in his fifth over of the day, before leg-spinner Ish Sodhi accounted for Darren Bravo in the next over, also without scoring.
Powell had faced 76 balls and struck three fours when he played down the wrong line to one that pitched and straightened and was adjudged lbw.
Two deliveries later, Edwards poked at a good length delivery while anchored to his crease and edged to first slip for Ross Taylor to take a smart catch diving to his right.
Wobbling at 60 for two, West Indies suffered an even harsher blow just nine balls later when stroke-maker Bravo chipped a simple catch back to Sodhi.
As has become the custom, Chanderpaul then helped to steady the Windies as Gayle went about his business with his usual aplomb.
Gayle faced 125 balls, lasted 169 minutes and struck 11 fours, and fell three runs short of 7000 runs in Tests.
Two balls later, Marlon Samuels found himself trapped on his crease, back when he should have been forward, and was palpably lbw without scoring.
In chaos at 104 for five, West Indies rebounded through Chanderpaul and captain Ramdin, who added 72 in a positive sixth wicket stand.
Chanderpaul picked his battles shrewdly, batting for nearly four hours, facing 138 deliveries and striking 13 fours while Ramdin’s 39 came from 77 balls and included six fours.
Chanderpaul played freely, flicking Boult off the legs to the mid-wicket boundary and also sweeping Sodhi behind square for another boundary, as West Indies inched towards 150.
On 176 for six at tea, the Windies lost a cluster of wickets afterward to slide to 223 for nine, before Chanderpaul and Shane Shillingford (14) put on 39 for the last wicket.
Unbeaten on 43 at the interval, Chanderpaul raised his 63rd Test half-century with a single to point off Craigg and then opened up, punching three fours in an over from Boult to race into the 80s.
Southee fittingly ended the innings in the second over with the second new ball, removing Shillingford to a catch behind, with Chanderpaul eyeing a 30th Test hundred. (westindiescricket.com)`