Day 4 Report by Garfield Robinson
New Zealand will enter tomorrows fifth and final day of the first test at North Sound with a chance of avoiding defeat. Their fortunes, of course, will depend on their captain Ross Taylor and the batsmen to come, but the conscientious batting of their top order has placed them in a position to save the game.
The West Indies did reasonably well to achieve a 171-run advantage on first innings after scoring 522, but they would have been disappointed that their bowlers were unable to make further inroads in the visitors batting. At close of play they were 133/3 with Taylor and nightwatchman Neil Wagner at the crease.
Sammy and Deonarine resumed for the morning session with a 91 run advantage. Fifty-four not out overnight, the Guyanese left-hander would have harboured thoughts of taking advantage of the placid surface and going on to get his maiden test hundred.
Admirably, given their aggressive nature, the batsmen began cautiously. They never passed up scoring opportunities, but they eschewed recklessness, though Deonarine was lucky to have survived when his thick edge just eluded a diving Kane Williamson. He was just getting into stride, striking Martin for three boundaries one over, only for the tall fast bowler to bowl him off an inside edge in his next. He was 21 short of his hundred and was sorely disappointed.
Even though he had reigned himself in, Sammy still struck some mighty blows. Vettori flighted one on off-stump and the West Indies captain took him over midwicket for six. Later, another hit over midwicket for six gave him 50, but he perished next ball when he top-edged an attempted slog-sweep and Vettori completed the catch that gave him his only wicket for the innings.
The West Indies innings folded on the stroke of lunch, and so New Zealand needed to ensure that they ate up enough of the remaining five sessions, and gather enough runs, to avoid defeat. Guptill and Flynn were solid and positive from the start. As he was in the first inning, Guptill was especially impressive, and after eight overs, with the seamers posing no great threat, Sammy summoned Narine into the attack.
The West Indies wasted a review when the Trinidadian’s sixth ball was shown to be glancing the leg stump after the umpire was unresponsive to a LBW appeal against Guptill. However, there was little doubt about the LBW verdict when he seemed to mislead Flynn with one that didn’t turn in his next over.
Fortune smiled on Guptill in the 30th over when he chipped a delivery that was angled into him by Roach to Sammy at midwicket. Replays requested by the umpire showed that the no-ball prone fast bowler had none of his boot behind the line and so Guptill lived on. He was then 42, and he survived to add 25 more before Narine spun one from round the wicket to have him caught off his glove at short leg.
Brendan McCullum got out chasing a wide ball in the first innings. This time he was much more circumspect, curbing his natural tendencies and attacking only the ball that was bereft of danger. He came out of his shell at one point and slapped part-time spinner Marlon Samuels for three fours in one over, the last of which took him to 50. But those deliveries were short and deserved the treatment they received and he immediately reverted to his cautious mode.
A few deliveries kept low, and Narine did extract some turn and bounce on occasion, yet there was nothing in the surface to cause much distress to the batsmen. Survival was therefore manageable once they approached their trade with care. This they did for the most part. McCullum was batting commendably, but on 84 he attempted to cut a delivery from Roach that was too close to him and he diverted it onto his stumps. It was the kind error that he was careful to avoid up to that point and it deprived him of what would have been a well-earned century.