IN the end, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kemar Roach and Narsingh Deonarine made a potentially nervy run chase look very easy.
They needed just an hour and 20 minutes on yesterday’s fourth day to knock off the 71 runs needed and hand West Indies a five-wicket victory over New Zealand in the second Digicel Test at Sabina Park.
On a pitch that was fair to batsmen and bowlers, the game ended with a day and three-quarters to spare reflecting poor batting, particularly by New Zealand.
Scores: New Zealand 260 and 154; West Indies 209 and 206-5.
The triumph — completed in gusty conditions presumably triggered by Tropical Storm Ernesto passing south of
Jamaica — meant West Indies swept the two Test series 2-0 following a nine-wicket win in the first Test in Antigua a week ago.
It’s the first Test series win by West Indies over New Zealand since 1996 and the first in the Caribbean against any opposition since 2009.
Yesterday’s victory was also the first for the West Indies in a Test match at Sabina since 2009 when Chris Gayle’s team shocked England by an innings. Crucially, this triumph at Sabina came as Jamaica celebrates the 50th anniversary of political Independence from Britain.
“This was for Jamaica,” Man of the Match Marlon Samuels who scored a brilliant first innings 123 and a half century in the second innings, told television interviewer Ian Bishop at game’s end.
It’s evidence of the prolonged slump in the fortunes of the West Indies team, that the just ended series represents the biggest margin of victory for the West Indies since a 2-0 sweep of Bangladesh in that country in 2000. In the Caribbean we have to go back to 2000 when West Indies defeated Zimbabwe 2-0. Play started yesterday with everyone aware that while the West Indies needed just 71 runs with six wickets in hand to get to the winning target of 206, run chases have proven notoriously difficult at Sabina Park in the past.
In fact, 212-3 by West Indies against Sri Lanka in 2003 is the highest Test match run chase there.
Before a small, nervous gathering Chanderpaul not out 20 from overnight, and nightwatchman Roach 10 set out with an obvious plan for the former to be the glue and for the latter to attack. Roach named Man of the Series for his 12 wickets and no doubt, also for his final-morning effort with the bat, said as much in the post match television interview.
“The plan was for me to be positive and take the pressure off Chanderpaul,” said Roach.
The plan worked to perfection.
Barbadian Roach, who scored a hundred in Jamaican club and parish cricket, a few years ago showed why many believe he has the potential to become a genuine all-rounder by repeatedly stepping forward to drive the New Zealand fast bowlers through the field and over the top.
By the time he fell, 55 minutes into the morning’s play, caught at backward point as he sliced an attempted drive against the part-time off spin of Kane Williamson, Roach had stroked 41 off 60 balls, hitting four fours. By then only 23 runs were needed for the West Indies win.
Chanderpaul, unhurried and composed, had the honour of getting the winning run, chopping Williamson to third man.
By then the no-nonsense Narsingh Deonarine — who had a fine game as a bowler taking six wickets with his off spin — had gathered 15 from 27 balls.
West Indies captain Darren Sammy said the series win was satisfying after some tough times over “the last year or two” and had set up the West Indies nicely for the T20 World Cup next month in Sri Lanka.
He praised his team for seizing the “key moments” in the series and for the fact that “different persons” made significant contributions at “different times”.
After losing the T20 and ODI series earlier, New Zealand captain Ross Taylor described the Caribbean tour as disappointing “all round”.
“We were beaten by a better team at the end of the day,” he said. Taylor said his side’s batting had let them down “very badly”, not least in this final Test when New Zealand lost all their second innings wickets for 99 runs to hand West Indies the advantage on the third day.
His team’s failure to register an individual century in the two-Test series was evidence of how poor they had been as a batting side, he said. “To score hundreds you need to bat for four hours, we were only batting for two, two and a half hours,” he said.