After the reversal suffered at Jamaica, cricket pundits would not have given the hosts great chance of a win as they headed into the second Test at Port of Spain. However, West Indies, rather surprisingly, came up with their most competent performance in recent times. We are not used to seeing the Windies do well with both bat and ball in a Test. Port of Spain was one of the rare occasions when things fell in place for them, both in the batting as well as the bowling department, as a result of which the won the Test comprehensively.
West Indies’ first-innings bowling performance was what set up the victory perfectly for the hosts. It was a wonderful bowling effort all-round as most of their bowlers chipped in and made an impact. Fast bowler Jerome Taylor was the most impressive of all, claiming four of the New Zealand wickets. He would be keen to continue the good work, and help West Indies come from behind to clinch the series. While Kemar Roach couldn’t make much of an impact, fast bowler Shannon Gabriel and left-arm spinner Suliemann Benn supported Taylor very well, and never let the pressure get off Kiwis.
After keeping New Zealand down to a low score, it was imperative that West Indies put up a big total on board, so that the pressure on New Zealand was maintained. And West Indies did exactly that. Opener Kraigg Brathwaite, who was in dire need of runs after being shunted in and out of the side, came up with what could be a career-rescuing century. It was a knock that put West Indies in total command in the game. Hopefully for West Indies cricket, they would see a different Brathwaite from here on.
The situation was not so desperate in the case of Darren Bravo, but a few more failures, and he would have got to that stage too. This is why his fluent century was so important to the team’s cause. When in flow, there are few better sights in world cricket these days. When two batsmen hit tons in the same innings, half-centuries become that much more significant. This is exactly what happened in the case of West Indies, with fifties from Kirk Edwards and Jermaine Blackwood, followed by good cameos from the lower order.
By the time West Indies batted in the second innings, they game was well in their grasp, but fans and the team would be overjoyed with the blitzkrieg knock that Chris Gayle came up with. It completely demoralised the Kiwis. If there is one aspect West Indies would be disappointed with, it is their second-innings bowling performance when they allowed the Kiwi innings to drag on. Something for the pumped up hosts to ponder upon going into Barbados.
--By A Cricket Analyst