– New Zealand win fifth ODI by nine runs to take series 2-1
A TOUR typified by the contrasting magnificence of Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the fraility of their inexperienced team-mates, the indiscipline of others and the constant presence of rain came to an apt but unsatisfactory end for the West Indies at McLean Park here yesterday.
All these elements were in place as New Zealand were declared winners by nine runs under the artificiality of the Duckworth/Lewis method when the weather intervened, as it had done in five of the earlier matches, with the contest hovering on a nail-biting climax.
It was a crushing, and unlucky, disappointment for Gayle whose status as batsman and captain has soared in the series and who had set his heart on returning home today with a 2-1 victory in the ODIs following two drawn Tests and a shared 1-1 in the 20/20s.
His 135, off 129 balls with five sixes and nine fours belted with his famed power, and his third wicket partnership of 170 off 26.2 overs with the phenomenal Chanderpaul, who was six runs short of another hundred of his own, built a daunting West Indies total of 293 for nine.
New Zealand were 211 for five off 35 overs in pursuit when rain swept in from the south and became heavy enough for umpires Mark Benson and Tony Hill to finally call a halt.
Had they ended it three overs earlier, as they might have with the rain already set in, the West Indies would have won by three runs and able return home with a real boost to morale on the eve of the home series against England.
One over, the 33rd, with the slippery ball by the otherwise admirable Lionel Baker was critical. It cost 15 and put New Zealand ahead. Batsmen Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott made sure to keep it that way before the inevitable end.
Taylor was unbeaten 48. When 12, he was clearly taken down the leg-side from the face of the bat by wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin off Keiron Pollard.
Umpire Hill denied the appeal. It would surely have made a difference but Gayle made no complaints about either matter, at the time or afterwards.
He and Chanderpaul were the twin pillars in a total that should have been enough to secure the deserving reward of victory for their class and consistency.
On the ground where he compiled his memorable 197 in the drawn second Test last month, Gayle passed 7,000 ODI runs on his way to his 19th ODI hundred and his third in his last seven innings.
It was as commanding as any of the others could have been but, like the two against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi in November, it was in losing causes.
Chanderpaul, as inventive as ever, revealed a new addition to his repertoire, an impish reverse sweep that he employed against spin and pace, using it to clear the boundary off the wily Daniel Vettori for his only six and once off the pacy Kyle Mills for four. Although Gayle said afterwards it came as a surprise to him, it would have been carefully planned and diligently practiced, as is everything in Chanderpaul’s batting, but it did bring about his dismissal.
While they contributed 229 between them, the rest managed 60 of the runs from the bat.
A measure of the quality of their batting, described as the finest he could remember by former New Zealand wicket-keeper Ian Smith, now television commentator, was in its construction.
Chanderpaul joined Gayle at 73 for two when Ramnaresh Sarwan topedged a hook to long-leg in the 17th over.
The next five overs yielded 12, the next five 13 as the two, conscious of the potential collapse to follow, consolidated.
Gradually, they took charge and, when they called for it, they took 57 in the five overs of the batting powerplay. Vettori kept his first eight overs down to 18, his next two went for 27. Mills also went for 27 off two.
Such efforts were undermined by a naïve lower order and by eight overs of uncontrolled cricketing craziness from Fidel Edwards and Daren Powell at the start of the New Zealand innings.
After Pollard was caught in the deep at 272 for five after briefly displaying his potent power with two mighty sixes in 19 off eight balls, five wickets tumbled for 21 from the last 25 balls, among them Chanderpaul. Powell, Ramdin and Edwards were all out slogging. It limited the total to well under what seemed likely when Gayle and Chanderpaul were in charge.
There then followed the fast bowlers’ mindless opening spell of fire and brimstone, verbal jousts with the opposing batsmen, wides and no-balls, sixes and fours.
It gave New Zealand such a flying start openers Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder had 53 from five overs – after Edwards’ first up no-ball was the only score in the first – and 95 for one after 10.
When Gayle took off Powell his four overs had cost 43 for the wicket of the left-hand opener Jesse Ryder, who was just as uncontrollably pumped up as he was. After Edwards’ first over, the following four yielded 46.
New Zealand were away as fast as Lewis Hamilton. Although Baker, Pollard, in a promising spell of medium-pace, Brendan Nash and Powell, when his head had cleared, applied the brakes, it was a woeful start that set the home team on its away and had a crowd of 10,000, basking in the early sunshine, cheering as they had done ungrudgingly when Gayle and Chanderpaul were captivating them.
Baker removed McCullum (41 off 28 balls, a six and six four) in his second over and Pollard accounted for Tim Guptill, the debutant century-maker from the previous match, for 43 (39 balls, one six, four four).
When Powell had Daniel Flynn and Neil Broom with successive balls, the force seemed with the West Indies. The rain and Duckworth/Lewis changed that.