Rain spoils NZ victory charge

2013-12-07 08:27
BJ Watling and Tim Southee (AFP)

Dunedin - New Zealand were left stranded an agonising 33 runs short of their first Test victory in more than a year on Saturday when rain washed out the final session of the first Test against the West Indies in Dunedin.

After four days of bright sunshine, the heavy downpour began at tea on the final day when New Zealand were 79-4 chasing 112 for victory.

After wrapping up the West Indies second innings for 507 before lunch, the modest target appeared a formality despite the forecast rain.

However, the New Zealand batsmen faltered from the start and were rapidly reduced to 44-4 before Ross Taylor and Corey Anderson arrested the slide.

Anderson finished not out 20 with Taylor on 16, and a Test that at one stage looked as if it would be over in four days instead petered out to a draw on the fifth.

"We would have won that, I believe, if it hadn't rained," said a dejected Brendon McCullum who is yet to taste success in 10 Tests since replacing Taylor as captain after their last win in Sri Lanka in November last year.

"It was disappointing to set ourselves up and be 33 short."

West Indies skipper Darren Sammy described it as a "moral victory" for his side coming off two innings defeats in India.

"We're quite happy from the position we were in at the end of our first innings," he said.

The New Zealand top order failed to read spinner Shane Shillingford, who was inconsequential in the first innings but produced exceptional figures of four for 26 off 15 overs on a well-worn pitch in the second.

He struck first in the last over before lunch when wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin snapped up a sharp catch down the leg side to remove Peter Fulton.

Umpire Paul Reiffel turned down the appeal, but on review it showed the New Zealand opener had a faint touch.

After lunch Aaron Redmond (six) turned Shillingford into the hands of Narsingh Deonarine at leg slip and Hamish Rutherford (20) was lured into a favourite heave shot that went straight to Shannon Gabriel waiting at long on.

McCullum was unable to reproduce his century-making first-innings heroics as he miscued a sweep shot and top edged the ball to Ramdin to be gone for nine. Shillingford then had four for 16.

It was a New Zealand performance far removed from the determination shown in the first innings when they amassed 609-9 declared, led by a career-best 217 not out from Ross Taylor, and whittled the West Indies out for 213.

Forced to follow on on the third day, the West Indies found a rock in Darren Bravo as the little left-hander led them from a 396-run deficit into positive territory.

They were eventually dismissed for 507 on the final day, with Bravo, who was dropped on 82, making a career best 218.

After going to the crease in the last session on Wednesday, his valiant stand came to an end in the third over of the fifth morning when he was bowled by a slower Trent Boult delivery that kept low.

In his marathon innings, Bravo faced 416 deliveries, scoring all but 38 of his runs on the off-side.

Sammy compiled a solid 80 before being the last wicket to fall, caught by Ish Sodhi at cover off the first delivery with the new ball by Tim Southee.

Sammy was saved from being dismissed on 57 when he showed deft football skills to kick away a delivery from Boult that had ballooned off the bat and was dropping down on the stumps.

Neil Wagner, who cleaned up the rest of the tail removing Tino Best and Shillingford, returned the best bowling figures for New Zealand with three for 112.

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