NORTH SOUND, Antigua (CMC) — Kemar Roach put the chains in motion before Chris Gayle coolly navigated West Indies to a ninewicket victory over New Zealand in the first Test here yesterday.
Roach snared 5-60 from 23.2 overs, as New Zealand were bowled out for 272 in their second innings about 45 minutes before tea on the final day.
It was the fifth time in 20 Tests that Roach had claimed five scalps and emphasised his role as the current strike bowler in the West Indies attack.
Gayle, a century-maker in the first innings, then gathered a typically authoritative, unbeaten 64, as West Indies confidently chased down 102 for victory.
He reached his 50 from just 42 balls with a lofted straight drive off Neil Wagner for four before the modest, but enthusiastic crowd at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground saw fellow left-hander Assad Fudadin formalise victory, when he turned a delivery from Daniel Vettori into square leg for a single about 45 minutes after tea. Opener Kieran Powell made 30 and was the only West Indies casualty in the run chase, when he was caught at backward point from a flawed cut at a short, rising ball from Doug Bracewell with 25 still needed.
The result gave West Indies a 1-0 lead in the series, which concludes with the final Test starting on Thursday at Sabina Park in Jamaica.
It was the first victory for West Indies in 11 Tests against New Zealand. The previous victory — 17 years ago at Kensington Oval in Barbados — came when Courtney Walsh’s side conquered Lee Germon’s by 10 wickets, a match that featured Sherwin Campbell’s highest Test score of 208.
Earlier, Roach had grabbed two scalps to keep the balance of power with West Indies, as the New Zealanders reached 225 for five at lunch.
The Caribbean side were frustrated, after the Black Caps resumed from their overnight total of 199 for three and encountered few or no terrors, reaching 217 for three with their captain Ross Taylor on 21 and nightwatchman Wagner on 11.
Rain swept across the ground and stopped play about 40 minutes after the start, offering West Indies 20 minutes to regroup.
Roach made the breakthrough almost immediately with the second ball following the stoppage, when Taylor played across a well-pitched delivery that moved back sharply and was a palpable lbw victim. He made 21. He struck again with the first delivery of his next over, when he bowled Kane Williamson for a one-ball duck, extracting the offstump in spectacular fashion with another well-pitched delivery that moved back, wobbling New Zealand on 217 for five.
After lunch, West Indies immediately claimed the second new ball and Roach had almost instant success, when left-hander Wagner, whose attritional approach brought him just 13 from 103 balls in 124 minutes at the crease, was caught behind driving loosely outside the off-stump at the third delivery with the new “cherry”.
Ravi Rampaul followed up in the next over, when he had Dean Brownlie caught at first slip for five playing defensively forward to a well-pitched delivery that moved away, leaving New Zealand 225 for seven.
West Indies met a bit of defiance, when Vettori and Kruger van Wyk spent the next 35 minutes together and pushed New Zealand past the 250-run mark.
But Rampaul produced another unplayable delivery to remove Vettori caught behind for 13 before Sunil Narine trapped Bracewell for a four-ball duck in the next over, sinking New Zealand to 258 for nine.
West Indies played cat-andmouse with the New Zealand last-wicket pair of van Wyk and Chris Martin before Roach returned and wrapped the innings up in the second over of the new spell, when he bowled the wicketkeeper/batsman for 30.
Narine ended with 3-91 from 42 overs for match figures of 8-223 that earned him the Man-ofthe-Match award, and Rampaul finished with 2-52 from 17 overs.