Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s record 17th unbeaten Test century and a master-class from a patched-up spin attack gave the West Indies the edge over New Zealand as they chased a series-leveling win yesterday.
Chanderpaul’s 122 not out, overtaking Sachin Tendulkar’s record and putting him sixth on the all-time scorers’ list, left the tourists on 367 all out before New Zealand finished day two of the third Test on 156-3.
Ross Taylor, seeking his third century in as many Tests, was on 56 and Brendon McCullum was on 11 after New Zealand lost openers Hamish Rutherford and Peter Fulton cheaply.
Taylor had in a 95-run partnership with Kane Williamson (58), the second victim for Sunil Narine, who was called into the side after Shane Shillingford’s ban for an illegal action.
The many variations in the twin spin assault of Narine and Veerasammy Permaul caused multiple problems for the New Zealand batsmen, who struggled to read the turning ball.
Williamson, playing on his home wicket, said the spin was not expected when New Zealand won the toss.
“Hence why we bowled first. I’ve never seen it spin like that, but that’s the card we’ve been dealt and we’ve needed to turn up with a change of game plan as a batting unit to face a lot spin on a wicket that’s very much conducive to spin bowling,” Williamson said.
The quirky style of Narine was particularly troublesome, he added.
“He’s very tough to pick. You can see it at times, but he bowls at such a pace it’s very hard to adjust your shot,” he said.
But the real honors for the West Indies lay with Chanderpaul, who came to the rescue and rewrote the record books into the bargain when the tourists were in trouble at 86-5 on the first day.
His 200-run partnership with Denesh Ramdin (107) and late cameo stands with Permaul (20) and Tino Best (25) gave the West Indies a respectable total to defend.
When Chanderpaul reached his 29th Test century by smacking Tim Southee past gully to the boundary, he immediately went down on his knees to kiss the pitch.
It was a gesture to celebrate the century as well as the achievement of batting his team out of trouble as the West Indies, 1-0 down in the series, fight to win the third and final Test.
“We talk about what we’re going to do and how we’re going to execute our plans, and I was really happy that we were able to do it,” Chanderpaul said. “I wish we had a wicket as good as this in the Caribbean, but we don’t.”
Chanderpaul’s 122 not out lifted him to 11,199 runs from his 153 Tests, overtaking Allan Border (11,174) as the sixth most prolific run-scoring Test batsmen, 754 behind fifth-placed Brian Lara.
His 17th unbeaten century also put the 39-year-old one ahead of recently retired Indian great Tendulkar as the batsman holding the most unbeaten Test tons.
New Zealand made an uncertain start to their response, with openers Fulton and Rutherford struggling to find runs and both removed by snappy catches by Darren Sammy.
The West Indies captain, celebrating his 30th birthday, just snuck his fingers under the ball at ground level to have Rutherford caught and bowled for 10.
The introduction of spin saw Fulton out for 11 when he flicked the third delivery from Narine down the leg-side where Sammy grasped a sharp, reflex catch.
While the spinners kept Williamson and Taylor guessing, and beat the bat several times, the partnership survived 34 overs before Narine trapped Williamson leg before wicket.