Five for Narine

Off-spinner Sunil Narine (second left) celebrating his maiden five-wicket Test haul today.

St John’s, Antigua – A maiden five-wicket haul by off-spinner Sunil Narine in only his second Test and an unbeaten opening stand of 145 by Chris Gayle (85) and Kieran Powell (58) put West-Indies in a dominant position at the close of play on the second day of the first Test at The Sir Vivian Richards Stadium at North Sound.

Earlier in the day, resuming at their overnight 232 for 4, New Zealand got off to a poor start, with debutant Neil Wagner flummoxed by a peach of a delivery from Narine that turned, bounced and took the batsman’s gloves for an easy catch to captain Darren Sammy at second slip.

Kane Williamson and Dean Brownlie then took the cautious approach scoring 27 runs off 13.5 overs before the new ball was taken in the 107th over.

Kemar Roach returned in the 110th over to end Williamson’s misery at the crease.

Kruger van Wyk survived a first ball scare when a ferocious appeal by Roach was turned down by Umpire Richard Kettleborough. Replays suggested that the ball might have taken the gloves as it was collected by Ramdin down the leg side.

The New Zealand team kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Ravi Rampaul was finally rewarded for some patient line and length bowling as he got Brownlie to knick one to Ramdin with the score on 281 for 7 in the 115th over.

That brought Daniel Vettori to the crease. He became the most capped kiwi Test player in this match.

New Zealand had moved to 286 for 7 at Lunch off 118 overs, adding 54 runs in 28 overs at under 2 runs per over and losing 3 wickets in the process.

Vettori came out after lunch with a positive outlook. He hit Narine for three fours in the very first over. But the former New Zealand captain’s honeymoon did not last for long. He was out caught at midwicket by Narsingh Deonarine trying to pull a short ball from Sammy.

Van Wyk became Narine’s fifth victim of the innings getting an inside edge onto the pad and lobbing the ball for a simple catch to Assad Fudadin at short leg.

Doug Bracewell provided some entertainment with a few delightful fours and two towering sixes off Narine in his cameo of 39 off 31 balls before he was out caught by Chanderpaul trying to clear the park off Rampaul but not before he had propelled the New Zealand score to 351, adding 42 runs for the last wicket with Chris Martin.

Then Gayle came out all guns blazing. He hit four consecutive fours in the first over of the innings by Martin.

Bracewell was caught by the cameras in a suspicious act where he appeared to be scratching the ball. The umpires immediately notified the match referee Ranjan Madugalle.

Gayle continued the onslaught and looked comfortable at the crease mixing aggression with sound defense. He had an awkward moment when on 36 a Doug Bracewell delivery kicked off a good length and hit him high on the bat only to be dropped by a diving Daniel Flynn at point.

The West-Indies 50 came up in the 11th over with Gayle contributing 41. Gayle soon brought up his 34th Test fifty in only 39 balls. West-Indies went to tea at 72 for no loss in 14 overs.

Both the batsman blossomed after tea. Powell gained in confidence after spending some time at the wicket and started to open his shoulders and play a few shots.

Gayle brought up the West-Indies 100 in the 21st over, a streaky inside-edge trying to cover drive a well-flighted Vettori delivery – the ball beating the keeper and the stumps to reach the boundary.

Gayle and Powell noticeably slowed as the day drew to a close, but not before a sweep to the fence off Vettori brought up Powell’s half-century off 128 balls with eight boundaries.

Despite a few late alarms, the two survived to the close to continue their assault tomorrow on a track increasingly offering assistance to the spinners, if giving nothing to the faster bowlers.

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