North Sound (Antigua), July 27: Looks like Chris Gayle has luck on his side as he marked his return to Test cricket with a flamboyant half-century to help West Indies put up a strong show against New Zealand in the first Test.
The talismanic opener, playing his first Test in more than 19 months, was left unbeaten on 85, with Kieran Powell on 58, as the West Indies reached 145 without loss, replying to New Zealand’s first innings total of 351.
Gayle treated a modest crowd at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground to a spectacular volley of strokes, as New Zealand’s innings folded soon after lunch.Gayle got into stride immediately with four straight boundaries off Chris Martin’s first over, galloping to 36 with some solid hitting and got a lifeline as Daniel Flynn put him down off a Bracewell delivery.Gayle reached his 50 in 39 balls.
Gayle also hit three fours in Neil Wagner’s third over, as he swatted a short delivery over mid-on, drove one up past extra cover, and slashed another short delivery, outside off-stump , over backward point.After reaching 50, Gayle slowed down his innings.Powell, remained unflappable at the other end and reached his 50 in 128 balls, with a sweep to deep fine leg.He looked as classy as usual and the presence of Gayle at the other end seemed to have brought stability to his batting, as he continued to pick runs off the New Zealand bowling.
Earlier, West Indies skipper Darren Sammy started the Kiwi collapse, when he had Daniel Vettori miscue a pull off a short rising delivery, to dismiss him caught for 17.Next over, Narine, playing in only his second Test, completed his five-wicket haul, when he dismissed Kruger van Wyk for 11.The New Zealand innings appeared to have been wrapped up, when umpire Paul Reiffel upheld Narine’s lbw appeal over Bracewell.The Kiwis were already trekking off the field, but stayed on when replays suggested otherwise.The Windies bowlers, Sammy in particular, came in for some harsh treatment from Bracewell, whose 31-ball cameo had five fours and a pair of sixes, before Shivnarine Chanderpaul dismissed him with a spectacular catch off a Ravi Rampaul delivery. Rampaul finished with figures of 2-44 from 23.1 overs whereas Kemar Roach finished with 2-55 off 23 overs.