A gutsy 200-run partnership between Denesh Ramdin and Shivnarine Chanderpaul rescued the West Indies from a perilous position yesterday as the tourists battled to 289 for six on the first day of the third Test against New Zealand.
Ramdin was dismissed just before the close for 107 to end a sixth-wicket stand that lifted the score to respectability, after another Calypso collapse had seen the team slump to 86-5 soon after lunch.
Chanderpaul was not out 94 at the close, with Darren Sammy yet to score as the West Indies fight to win the Test in a bid to level the three-match series.
The tourists’ cause was helped by a wicket that offered the bowlers little in the morning before becoming totally unresponsive midway through the day, allowing the batsmen more time to place the ball, and the run rate lifted noticeably.
After just 142 runs were scored in the first two sessions, the post-tea session of play yielded a further 147 runs.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum won the toss and with hindsight he may regret his decision to bowl first, as rewards were hard to come by except for a brief period after lunch.
After the West Indies had progressed cautiously to 77-1, they collapsed to 86-5 in the space of 34 deliveries before Ramdin joined Chanderpaul to put them back on track.
Kraigg Brathwaite and Kieran Powell put on 41 for the first wicket before Powell, on 26, edged Neil Wagner to wicketkeeper B.J. Watling.
Brathwaite, promoted to play his first Test since 2011 when Darren Bravo was injured during practice, reached 45 before his dismissal soon after lunch started the top order’s collapse.
Kirk Edwards (six), Marlon Samuels (0) and Narsingh Deonarine (two) followed quickly and the West Indies were once again on the ropes, as they were in the first two Tests.
However, with no demons in the pitch, Chanderpaul and Ramdin were able to bat the West Indies out of trouble, making New Zealand pay for their dropped chances.
Ramdin had a let-off on 57 when Kane Williamson spilled a chance at midwicket, and another on 92 when Tim Southee dropped the ball at short cover point. His luck ran out when he was caught behind off Corey Anderson.
Anderson was the most successful of the New Zealand bowlers, with three for 25 off 14 overs.
New Zealand are playing the same team that won the second Test inside three days by an innings and 73 runs, while the West Indies made three changes.
Sunil Narine replaced spinner Shane Shillingford, who has been suspended for an illegal bowling action, Braithwaite came in for the injured Bravo and Veerasammy Permaul took the place of Shannon Gabriel.
The first Test of the series was drawn.