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West Indies levelled the two-Test series against New Zealand, as they won the second match by 10 wickets. The hosts were always in control of the Test in Trinidad against the Kiwis. The same could not have been said, if it was against the weather Gods. Shrikant Shankar lists out the talking points from the second Test between West Indies and New Zealand.
Tom Latham’s consistency
Tom Latham has been in very good form in the Test series against West Indies. The left-handed opener has been amongst the runs in each of the four innings he has batted in. His scores read as 83, 73, 82 and 36. Obviously the 36 he made in the second innings of the second Test is not a significant contribution, but he played out 138 deliveries, as New Zealand had to try and save the match. But Latham has given the Kiwis good starts from at least one end and that will always come in handy in Test cricket. His main focus should be to finish the series with another set of good scores — preferably, three-digit figures.
Jerome Taylor & Kemar Roach combo
West Indies’ history showcases some of the finest and fastest bowlers in the game of cricket. But in recent years, they have lost that great quality. But not all hope is lost. With Jerome Taylor and Kemar Roach, the West Indies have two good fast bowlers, who can offer a lot going forward. Taylor is almost 30 years of age and Roach is 25. There is still a lot of years of cricket left in them. The duo are genuine fast bowlers and their breed is a rare thing in international cricket these days. Both Taylor and Roach helped West Indies in each innings of the Test separately to win it for the West Indies. Taylor took a four-wicket haul in the first innings, while Roach did the same in the second. Taylor is known to dismiss a lot of top-order batsmen and Roach is very good at cleaning up the tail. This was evident in the second Test. If they can stay away from injuries, then West Indies have a very good opening fast-bowling combination for the foreseeable future.
If there is a batsman in world cricket who can take the life out of a bowling attack [and spectators alike], then it is Kraigg Brathwaite. The right-handed opening batsman takes us back to the days of yore, when many were only interested in consuming deliveries. His Test strike-rate is 35.93 and that tells one what to expect from Brathwaite every time he steps out to bat. But in Test cricket, at times, such a batsman is needed. He scored his maiden Test century in the first innings against New Zealand at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad. His innings of 129 came off 258 deliveries. He did score 13 fours and his strike-rate was 50. This shows that he can raise his batting speed a little. But more importantly, Brathwaite showed he has the stomach for a hard day of Test cricket.
BJ Watling & Mark Craig resistance
Brathwaite bats very slowly, irrespective of the situation. But BJ Watling and Mark Craig had to bat slowly as the situation demanded the same for New Zealand. With the threat of rain looming continuously, there was a good chance for New Zealand to draw the match if their batsmen hung around enough. Watling scored 216-ball 66 not out. Craig scored 67 off 167 deliveries. One should also remember Watling’s battling 124 off 367 deliveries against India at Wellington to save the Test. New Zealand have a lot of good elements in their team to build for the future. Lower-order batsmen willing to spend hours at the crease is a great quality to have.
Chris’s ‘Gayle Storm’
When New Zealand were bowled out for 331 in their second innings, West Indies were set a target of 93 runs. But more than one and a half hours were lost after the New Zealand innings due to the weather God’s intervention. When play resumed during the post-lunch session, there was still the threat of rain and the match ending in a draw. So, Chris Gayle decided to finish off the run-chase in 13.2 overs. The left-handed opener bludgeoned the cricket ball to all corners of the stadium right from the word go. He struck seven fours and six sixes in his unbeaten innings of 80 off only 46 deliveries. He reached his half-century off only 28 deliveries. This was the joint-sixth fastest in Test history. This was also the joint-second fastest by a West Indies batsman. After a long time, fans could finally see a ‘Gayle Storm’ in Test cricket.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)
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