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By Shiamak Unwalla
Jun 12, 2014
A few late fireworks from the last pair of Shane Shillingford and Suleiman Benn notwithstanding, New Zealand pulled off a terrific victory against West Indies in the first Test at Kingston, Jamaica, to go one-nil up in the three-match series. Debutant off-spinner Mark Craig, all-rounder James Neesham, pace bowler Tim Southee and batsman Kane Williamson all starred in the victory for the Kiwis.
After West Indies went in to Tea at 15 for two, it was always going to be difficult for them to get back in the game. Kirk Edwards, Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels all fell to the guile of Craig, as none of them were able to hold out for very long. Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Denesh Ramdin looked good during their brief stay at the crease, but even they were soon dismissed. Jerome Taylor struck a few boundaries, but after he was dismissed it seemed that New Zealand would win in the next few minutes.
However, the No 11 batsman Shane Shillingford had ideas of his own, as he unleashed some ferocious shots that saw him race away to the second fastest fifty in all Test cricket. He is now between Jacques Kallis and Shahid Afridi on the list of quickest Test fifties. In the end, he was unbeaten on 53 from just 29 balls with three fours and five sixes.
Earlier, A patient 73 on a difficult fourth-day pitch from Tom Latham and a few cameos from the lower order helped New Zealand extend their lead past 400 at Tea on Day Four of the First Test against West Indies. In reply, West Indies were reeling at 15 for two — with danger man Chris Gayle dismissed — going in to Tea.
After consolidating their position following some early wickets, the New Zealand batsmen led by Latham and Jimmy Neesham managed to score at a decent clip to steadily swell their lead towards the 400-run mark. Neesham was dismissed by Marlon Samuels, as he tried to go for a big hit down the ground but failed to make good enough contact. BJ Watling scored a quick unbeaten 22 as Latham was dismissed at the other end, edging behind off Roach. Mark Craig then went on to hit his first ball in Test cricket for a six to bring up the 400-run lead for New Zealand.
In reply, the West Indies were off to a miserable start as Tim Southee ripped through the top order to get rid of both openers for a paltry total. Chris Gayle managed to get to 7,007 Test runs before edging behind to Watling off Southee. This after Kieran Powell clipped one straight to Latham at short midwicket.
Earlier, West Indies had got off to the perfect start to the morning session. In only the second over of the day, Jerome Taylor’s twin strikes put the Kiwis on the backfoot. Taylor first foxed nightwatchman Ish Sodhi with a delivery that seamed away from the batsman and caught him plumb in front. But the big strike came in the next ball when Ross Taylor was caught in his crease and failed to block a fuller delivery which came back in to the right-hander. At 14 for four, the Kiwis were looking down the barrel when Latham an skipper Brendon McCullum put up a tough resistance. Kemar Roach and Taylor, the spinners too kept the batsmen in check with Suleiman Benn creating more pressure.
McCullum and Latham put a crucial 41-run stand until Shillingford got the better of McCullum’s forward defensive push. At 55 for five, the Kiwis had a lead of 287 which was far from comfort. McCullum scored 17 in 47 balls. Latham could have been dismissed soon after but West Indies cho0se against reviewing a leg-before call turned down by the umpire. Latham backed his 83 in the first innings with another fifty, and Southee ensured that New Zealand went in to Tea firmly in control.
Shane Shillingford’s sensational hitting only managed to delay the inevitable — and severely disfigure Mark Craig’s numbers — as his unbeaten 53 couldn’t stop New Zealand from pulling off the win in the dying overs of the day’s play.
New Zealand 508 for 7 decl. (Kane Williamson 113 James Neesham 107; Sulieman Benn 3 for 142, Shane Shillingford 3 for 145) & 156 for 8 decl. (Tom Latham 73, BJ Watling 22*; Jerome Taylor 3 for 28, Kemar Roach 2 for 12, Shane Shillingford 2 for 39) beat West Indies 262 (Chris Gayle 64, Shivnarine Chanderpaul 84*, Denesh Ramdin 39; Mark Craig 4 for 91, Tim Southee 4 for 19) & 216 (Denesh Ramdin 34, Shane Shillingford 53*; Tim Southee 2 for 32, Mark Craig 4 for 97, Ish Sodhi 3 for 42) by 186 runs.
Man of the match: Mark Craig
(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)
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