West Indies Make Solid Start

On a day on which just 27 overs were possible due to the weather and light, the West Indies made a reasonable start to the third and final test against the New Zealanders, a match in which pride and individual form are the main focus due to the series already having been lost 2-0.

After losing the entire first and half of the second session due to an extremely wet outfield from heavy rain in the last few days before the match, Stephen Fleming chose to bowl after winning the toss. After a challenging opening over from Shane Bond, Chris Gayle decided to make the most of his time in the middle and play some shots. From just 27 balls he scored 30 before with the team score at just 37 he smashed a ball from Chris Martin straight to Peter Fulton in close. After Martin had already conceded ten runs in the over, Fleming put Fulton in that position specifically for that shot and the plan worked perfectly.

The fall of Gayle’s wicket brought Brian Lara to the middle. The great left-hander looked dreadfully out of form at times and in form at others as he played a muddled innings but most importantly remained not out when the day came to a premature close. He played and missed and was made to look very uncomfortable at times, particularly by Bond, but two of his three boundaries were absolutely magnificent shots and exactly what we have come to expect from an in-form Lara throughout the last decade. Daren Ganga at the other end remained unbeaten on a steady 31.

Only four bowlers were used on the first day, Bond returning to the team in impressive style despite conceding 40 from his 9. He troubled all three West Indian batsmen regularly and was unlucky to end the day without a wicket. James Franklin was again a frustrating mixture of superb deliveries and gift runs. But the superb deliveries once again gave New Zealanders a glimpse of what he might be capable of when he gets some consistency into his game. Chris Martin took the wicket of Gayle and bowled reasonably well, ending with solid figures of 1-18 from four if you consider that he conceded ten from his first. But the pick of the bowlers was probably Nathan Astle, who bowled six overs with excellent accuracy, forcing the batsmen to play at every single ball. He is always a tough bowler to score runs off, and with conditions in his favour as they were today he becomes a real threat.

So West Indies finished at 95-1 and, weather permitting, will resume tomorrow and supporters will be hoping to see these two put on a considerable partnership tomorrow. With the likes of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo struggling for form the batting lineup, despite the return of Dwayne Smith to the side in place of Rawl Lewis, looks quite shaky and prone to collapse just like it did in Auckland and Wellington. But in the short period of play today there were some very good signs for the visitors.

West Indies 95-1
Daren Ganga 31 no, Chris Gayle 30
Chris Martin 1-18, Nathan Astle 0-10

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