West Indies bowlers keep runs in check
The first Test match after two high-profile Twenty20 tournaments – the World T20 and the IPL – got off to a slow start, as New Zealand’s run rate stayed below two an over throughout the morning session at Sabina Park, Jamaica.
West Indies’ attack comprised four bowlers making comebacks after layoffs of varying lengths and they operated with control on a surface that was on the slower side for the quicks but had turn and bounce for the spinners.
The hosts were only able to take one wicket, though – that of Peter Fulton – after which Tom Latham, playing only his second Test, and Kane Williamson achieved New Zealand’s objective to batting through the first session without damage.
Jerome Taylor, whose last Test was in November 2009, opened the bowling after New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum won the toss, and he was able to move the ball away from both the right and left-hand openers. Taylor was more effective than his partner Kemar Roach, but on the whole West Indies’ new-ball bowlers could have made the batsmen play more than they did.
Fulton and Latham focused on defence, leaving whenever they could, and barely played a forcing shot. Not one ball was hit in the air during the whole session. Fulton, however, was beaten by a couple of deliveries from Taylor that pitched around off and seamed away. And when one did not move as much, Fulton was caught in his crease and edged to the wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin, whose first catch as Test captain was an easy one. New Zealand’s newest pair of openers had added nine runs in 8.1 overs in their first partnership.
Taylor’s first attempt at a bounce, in the ninth over, rose so slowly that Latham had plenty of time to swivel and pull. A fuller length was clearly the way to go for the quicks.
After Taylor and Roach had bowled five overs each, Ramdin made a surprising bowling change. Darren Bravo had never bowled in any form of international cricket before – he had bowled only 100 deliveries in first-class cricket – and yet here he was bowling medium-pace in the 11th over of a Test. His lengths were horrible and the experiment lasted only one over.
Sulieman Benn, playing his first Test since December 2010, came on in the 12th over and immediately found turn and bounce to keep his two slips on alert. Like they had against the quicks, the batsmen looked to block him out and New Zealand scored 22 in the first hour.
Shortly after drinks, Ramdin deployed spin from both ends, but it was Marlon Samuels he turned to, and not his other specialist Shane Shillingford. Samuels thought he had Latham lbw first ball and reviewed the umpire’s not-out decision, only to find the ball had both hit the inside edge and then the pad outside off stump.
Benn bowled five maidens in his first six overs. He beat both batsmen with his bounce from a tight line around off stump. He also had a bat-pad appeal upheld shortly before lunch but Latham immediately, and successfully, challenged it. Perhaps tiring after bowling 11 successive overs, Benn dropped short in the last one before lunch – a rare loose ball – and Latham pulled to take his and New Zealand’s boundary-count to four. Their run rate crept past 1.90 for the first time. (cricinfo)