Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Watling, Craig stall victory push for Ramdin’s men


SPECTACULAR: West Indies’ Kirk Edwards holds on to a catch to dismiss New Zealand’s Tim Southee off of Kemar Roach’s bowling, yesterday, the fourth day of the second Test at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain. —Photo: ANISTO ALVES

Mark Fraser

IBeaten in four days by New Zealand at Sabina Park, Denesh Ramdin’s West Indies side threatened to return the compliment yesterday at the Queen’s Park Oval. Starting the penultimate day of the second Test needing nine wickets to level the series, the home side’s bowlers chipped away at the opposition, taking seven wickets, and leaving themselves on the brink of victory.

Another small crowd yesterday would have been anticipating a win on the Labour Day holiday when Tim Southee was superbly caught at cover by Kirk Edwards diving to his left to snare a drive off Kemar Roach. It was 3.41 in the afternoon, New Zealand were still 27 runs away from making the home team bat again and Mark Craig was coming to the crease to join wicketkeeper BJ Watling.

One hour and 44 minutes later, Watling (38) and Craig (29) were still at the crease and their side was 18 runs ahead heading into the final day with the score on 257 for eight.

Watling, standing his ground for just about four-and-a-quarter hours, and rookie Craig, with a career batting average above 22, made the West Indies bowlers work harder than they or the spectators had anticipated in putting together a ninth wicket partnership so far worth 45.

It was a wearisome final session for the Windies who only picked up two wickets in that time. The new ball—taken by Ramdin after 94 overs—accounted for both Ish Sodhi and Southee. But almost as if they presumed the end was imminent, pacers Roach (21-6-53-3), Jerome Taylor (25-8-46-2) and Shannon Gabriel (19-3-56-1) did not pile on the pressure, and Ramdin’s decision to set more defensive fields for the established Watling did not help the cause.

The Windies seemed to run out of ideas as the overs passed and yet again, a lower order partnership proved a bigger than expected obstacle for the Caribbean side. No blame however could be laid at the big feet of Sulieman Benn however.

Persistent like a house fly and dangerous when he pitched into the rough for the left-handers, he anchored the bowling effort yesterday, sending down 36 overs, including 14 maidens. His overall figures so far read: 49-19-62-2. It has so far been a continuation of what he started in the first innings. His effort was worth more than his two wickets yesterday. The return catch