- West Indies v New Zealand, 1st Test, Jamaica, 3rd day
Samuels & spinners hand West Indies the edge
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The balance shifted in favour of West Indies as they were just 71 adrift of closing out the Test and the series with six wickets in hand going into what could be the final day of the game. Their spinners, led by Narsingh Deonarine set it up by bowling New Zealand out for 154, setting a target of 206. For the second time in the match, Marlon Samuels held the key for West Indies as his half-century gave the hosts the edge after a shaky start. Samuels' wicket late in the day gave New Zealand an opening, but Shivnarine Chanderpaul's presence gave West Indies a sense of security.
Deonarine turned out to be the surprise package on the third morning as he added two more wickets to his overnight tally to finish with 4 for 37. It was the same old story for New Zealand as their batsmen were guilty of throwing it away and none of them seemed to have the patience to grind it out for long periods and wear the bowlers down. The pitch offered something for the spinners and seamers but it wasn't spiteful.
Like Kemar Roach did in the final day of the first Test in Antigua, picking up quick wickets in a decisive passage of play, Tino Best signalled the start of West Indies' dominance this morning with a double-strike in one over. The pressure created by those two wickets stalled New Zealand's resistance and from then on there was no recovery from the visitors.
Deonarine, a part-time offspinner, comfortably outbowled the lead spinner Sunil Narine. That Deonarine bowled a 17-over spell, giving little away, showed the confidence Darren Sammy had in him. He wasn't afraid to flight the ball, and the batsmen were circumspect with their foot movement, not getting fully forward to smother the spin. Though Deonarine deserved his wickets, New Zealand will not be too happy with the fact that they allowed a part-timer put them under pressure for such a sustained period.
Best removed the nightwatchman Neil Wagner with a snorter and two balls later, Ross Taylor slashed to the keeper, mirroring his dismissal from the first innings. Brendon McCullum was Deonarine's third victim, offering a bat-pad catch to forward short leg. Deonarine had time to sneak in one more before lunch, when he had Kane Williamson driving which induced an outside edge to Sammy at slip for the second time in the match. It was like re-running the tapes. West Indies set the trap for the aggressive Kruger van Wyk by keeping a fielder in the deep for the slog and he succumbed.
Doug Bracewell and Dean Brownlie resisted for a brief period after lunch with a stand of 37. Their stand helped push the lead past 200 but they couldn't stretch it by much to intimidate West Indies.
Chris Gayle got the chase off to a rollicking start by walking down the track to Trent Boult in the first over and smashing him over deep extra cover. But Boult pitched one up and held its line to trap Gayle in front of the off stump. Gayle immediately reviewed it, but it was a desperate call from a batsman hoping for a second chance to make amends for his first-innings failure. Kieran Powell played across the line to Tim Southee and was also struck in line with the stumps, leaving West Indies at a worrying 20 for 2 in the fourth over.
Samuels restored order with some crunching drives off the front foot, but he too flirted with danger outside the off stump. But the bowlers could have done with better support from the fielders though. One lapse that could prove very costly for New Zealand was the dropped catch by BJ Watling at gully, giving Samuels a reprieve at 20 just before tea. It also didn't help when Bracewell overran the ball at third man and conceded a boundary, giving West Indies bonus runs.
Post tea, Samuels and Assad Fudadin settled on building a partnership. The seamers were guilty at times by giving Fudadin scoring opportunities by bowling at the pads. Samuels was solid with his drives down the ground and steered the ball with ease past the slips.
There was a moment of celebration for the Jamaicans at the ground as they watched - on the giant screen - one of their own, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce finish in pole position in the Women's 100m sprint at the London Olympics. On resumption, the bowlers managed to keep Fudadin quiet by bowling consistently on the channel outside off. Sure enough, impatience got the better of him as he chopped Wagner onto his stumps, driving away from the body.
Samuels slowed down as he approached his fifty, and he had all but achieved his aim of remaining unbeaten till stumps. In a rare lapse of concentration, he slashed at a Bracewell delivery outside off which he should have left alone, and Taylor showed good reflexes at slip to send him back. There were no further alarms for the hosts as Roach and Chanderpaul saw off the last few overs.
West Indies ended as favourites to wrap up the game, but it could be a different story if New Zealand's seamers can reproduce their form and consistency from the first innings to pull off an unlikely win. However, what could thwart either team's victory bid is the tropical storm Ernesto, which is expected to hit Jamaica on Sunday.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo