New Zealand romped home to another series win after winning the second Test at Hamilton and subsequently whitewashing West Indies in a two-match Test series. With what could have turned out to be another stepping stone in West Indies’ rejuvenating Test career, was just another dismal show after early promise and occasional sparks of brilliance.
After a disheartening campaign at Wellington, West Indies had their hopes pinned to the Seddon Park encounter. West Indies did show signs of brilliance at Wellington and their most loyal fans would have certainly hoped for them bouncing back emphatically in the ultimate game and end the series on a high. But it wasn’t to be. There has been a pattern in how West Indies operate, they have shown early promise only to fizzle out with time. They did at Wellington and repeated the feat at Hamilton.
West Indies were unfortunate to miss out on their skipper Jason Holder for the decisive second encounter as he was handed a match suspension for not keeping up with the over rate. Kraigg Brathwaite was the stand-in skipper and had a tough challenge in hand. Raymon Reifer made his Test debut in the absence of Holder and had a huge gap to fill with his presence.
West Indies seamers did reasonably well in the first innings, keeping New Zealand to 312 for 9. But an awe-inspiring stand between Tim Southee and Trent Boult for the last wicket denied them the edge. Still, it was a notable performance in keeping New Zealand to 373.
Their batting showed some promise in the first Test, but Neil Wagner exploited their weaknesses with a barrage of short deliveries. He was quick and aggressive and was expected to do similar damage in Hamilton as well. West Indies once again failed to click and their batsmen failed to convert starts into big scores. New Zealand seamers helped their side gain a healthy lead and strengthened their hold in the game.
West Indies bowlers fought back in the second innings, but Ross Taylor stood out with another scintillating ton. They set a massive target of 444 for the visitors against a pumped up bowling attack. West Indies batting had a huge challenge to overcome, but one wouldn’t be wrong in saying that they could have done better than what they eventually did.
They lost wickets on a regular basis and were precariously placed at 80 for 5 when Roston Chase and Reifer showed resistance and negotiated the New Zealand attack for a while. West Indies were bowled out for 203, losing the contest by 240 runs. Barring Chase, none of the West Indies batsmen crossed the 50-run mark.
Their batting failed to click and was once again disappointing. They need to pull up on the conversion rate as one just can’t afford to let it go after settling down. While their seamers did enough in the second Test, it was the failure of their batting that let them down.
Yes, they did win a Test match in England recently and have shown enough signs of promise, but have failed to find consistency. They managed to win at least a Test in their last four series and one expected similar magic in the ongoing series. They also did well to win the series against Zimbabwe and their career graph was on a hike. They need to step up as a unit and can’t afford to let the momentum drift away just like that.
New Zealand skipper also spoke about how talented the West Indies side is and they way they fought in England. He was quoted in a report from ESPNCricinfo saying, “I think the highlight would probably be how we adapted and stuck to our plans and executed those plans. We knew coming against a West Indies side, how talented they are. Winning away in England was a great effort and we were expecting a tough challenge.”
Prior to the start of the Test series, not many gave West Indies a chance to win, but there were few who expected them to spring a surprise. The scenario in England was no different and they did win a Test in the taxing conditions. The side has potential and capability, but what happened in Hamilton was just a well-known breakdown after early promise. They need to get rid of this habit. They are rebuilding and series like these will help them find the right character, who can take the team ahead. With the One-Day International (ODI) series ahead, West Indies would look to put up a fight and seek revenge.