West Indies’ loss in the first Test against New Zealand in Wellington happened majorly because they lacked an all-round performance from the boys. While the batsmen had their moments in the second innings, the bowling attack was a sheer disappointment when compared to the opponents. New Zealand’s fast bowlers inflicted a batting collapse twice in the West Indian line-up, in contradiction to the visitors’ quick bowlers who were not even close to troubling Kane Williamson and Co at Basin Reserve. Now that skipper Jason Holder was suspended for a Test for slow over rate, a major blow was expected in the West Indian bowling attack.
However, Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach, Miguel Cummins and Raymon Reifer together put West Indies ahead in the Test, for the very first time in the series. When New Zealand openers Jeet Raval and Tom Latham began the opening day of the Hamilton Test, with domination over the opposition with the new ball, that threw no surprises but the usual state of the Carribean Test side. Raval and Latham put up 65 runs for the first wicket before fats bowler Cummins drew first blood by dismissing Latham in the 20th over. West Indies managed to make just one breakthrough before lunch.
New Zealand Captain Kane Williamson’s wicket was the most significant for the reason he has been a great form of late. He had two centuries from the home series against South Africa and the matches he scored a ton, New Zealand did not lose them. Kemar Roach, on the other hand, exploited Williamson’s short ball problems and restricted his stay at the crease to just 10 balls in the first Test last week. The skipper looked uneasy even when he came out to bat in the second Test. His failed to go off the mark in his first 17 deliveries, out of which 12 were delivered by debutant bowler Reifer.
While the first session was more of a loose one in terms of runs that came freely for the New Zealanders, the second session was a tight one for them. Gabriel, in an attempt to bring seam or swing, ended up to pitch the ball too full which backfired and leaked runs in the first session. He began the day by conceding two boundaries in the first over. While Gabriel bowled both good and poor spells, the likes of Roach, Cummins and Reifer stuck to the correct line and lengths to put brakes on the scoreboard from the other end.
Just when Williamson and Raval began to threaten the West Indians, Cummins picked his second wicket of the day and he caught the big fish by dismissing Williamson for 43 off 96 balls. Gabriel’s comeback in the day started with the dismissal of the set batsman, Raval when the batsman was at 84 runs off 157 balls. New Zealand went into the post-Tea session by being three wickets down with two new batsmen, Ross Taylor and Henry Nichollas at the crease. Soon after that, Roach and Reifer struck in a quick course to remove Taylor and Nicholls, New Zealand had lost four wickets for 45 runs and were reduced to 189 for 5.
Once again, Colin de Grandhomme took the matters on his hand during crisis times for New Zealand. Although he consumed 11 deliveries to go off the mark and also received a life when he was dropped by the keeper when on eight runs, he made full use of a second life. Mitchell Santner gave de Grandhomme the required support and with their sixth wicket stand, New Zealand crawled back into the game. As de Grandhomme settled at the crease, he took advantage of Seddon Park’s small boundaries to launch himself. It was New Zealand who used the second new ball well when de Grandhomme piled up 42 runs, including three sixes and a four off Chase’s 25 balls, to register a half-century.
However, whenever New Zealand tried to go on the driver’s seat, there was a West Indian bowler to ruin their effort. Gabriel not only leaked runs but also frustrated his captains with the extra runs he gave away. But, it was him who broke the 76-runs stand of Santner and de Grandhomme by removing Santner at 265 for 6. After a span of 10 runs, Gabriel also had de Grandhomme in his list of the victims of the day.
By beginning the day slow, the West Indian quickies caught the right rhythm by the end of the play and since the track is expected to get quicker in the next two days, they have a huge chance to bowl out the hosts under 350-360 on the second day. Gabriel being one of the key faces in the West Indian attack off late, it was mandatory for him to take charge in the absence of Captain Jason Holder. The fashion in which Gabriel fought back after a poor start showed positives for the visitors and the added encouraging part was the other three – Roach, Reifer and Chase – between the three of them, they bagged four wickets and conceded only 118 runs from 53 overs, overall.