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WEST INDIES ROMP

...series even after 10-wicket win over Kiwis

By \\\\\ Roger Seepersad

After being frustrated by an eight-wicket stand that spanned 43.1 overs, the West Indies needed to let off some steam and Chris Gayle did exactly that, hitting an unbeaten 80 off 46 balls to lead the Windies to a ten-wicket win over New Zealand on the final day of the second Test at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, yesterday.

Gayle made the eventual win look easy, hitting six sixes and seven fours as West Indies reached 95 without loss off 13.2 overs after being set a victory target of 93.

The victory, Denesh Ramdin’s first as captain and the West Indies’ first in Tests in over a year, ensured the regional side levelled the three-match series 1-1 with the final Test to be played in Barbados next week.

But it was not all smooth sailing for the hosts on the final day. Having frustrated the Windies for most of the fourth day, Mark Craig (67 off 167 balls) and BJ Watling (66 n.o. off 216 balls) returned on the final day to extend their eighth-wicket stand and keep the home team in the sun for a further 25.2 overs. Both men scored half centuries as the Kiwis were eventually dismissed for 331 off 152.2 overs.

But most of the West Indies’ frustration yesterday was of their own doing after they missed two early chances to get the visitors out earlier. Jerome Taylor (two for 73) found the edge of Craig’s bat twice off consecutive balls, the first going past a diving Sulieman Benn at third slip and the second just going past Gayle at first slip, both times the ball sped to the boundary for four.

Those chances kept the home team field for the next 13 overs during which time the hosts unsuccessfully used their final review when Craig was hit on the arm guard by a short ball from Taylor.

Craig went on to score his maiden Test half century off 126 balls with seven fours while Watling got to the milestone shortly after off 161 balls with three fours as they shared a 99-run stand for the ninth wicket before Kemar Roach (four for 74) got the breakthrough, removing Craig caught behind by Denesh Ramdin, to claim his fourth wicket in the innings.

Shannon Gabriel (two for 66) got rid of Boult shortly after to end the extended rain-affected morning session. The post lunch resumption was also delayed by a heavy shower but that did little to dampen the West Indies who were on the verge of victory.

After that, Gayle raced to the second fastest Test 50 by a West Indian when he hit Ish Sodhi for six over long on before hitting the spinner over mid-wicket for another six. Before that Gayle hit pacer Trent Boult for three sixes in one over to put the host on their way to victory.

Man of the Match Kraigg Brathwaite was 14 not out when Gayle hit Kane Williamson for four to seal the result.

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