x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Napier Test ends in draw

New Zealand falter in a promising run chase and the match and series against West Indies ends in a draw.

NAPIER // Chris Gayle made 197 as West Indies set New Zealand 312 to win the second Test today but the home side faltered in a promising run chase and the match and series ended in a draw. Gayle's innings of more than eight hours, which yielded his eighth century and second-highest score in Tests, guided West Indies to 375 in their second innings after they had trailed New Zealand by 64 runs. New Zealand had a minimum of 60 overs over two sessions to win the match and threatened the target at times as Jamie How (54) and Jesse Ryder (59 not out) reached half centuries but eventually the loss of wickets forced them to bat out time.

Stumps were drawn with nine overs remaining when captains Gayle and Daniel Vettori agreed no result was possible, with New Zealand 220 for 5 and still 92 runs from victory. The dissolution of a 74-run fourth wicket partnership between Ryder and Ross Taylor (46) and the dismissal of Brendon McCullum for 19 - one of the first glaringly bad decisions under cricket's new Umpire Referral System - stifled the New Zealand run chase and consigned the match to a draw.

That the visitors were in a position to set New Zealand a target which was beyond the reach of even Taylor, Ryder and McCullum - dangerous batsmen favoured by an ideal batting pitch - was due almost entirely to Gayle, who injected substance into the tourists' second innings. He batted 514 minutes and hit 20 fours and seven sixes from 396 balls in completing his first century since 2005, in passing 5,000 runs and posting the highest Test total at McLean Park.

Gayle opened West Indies' second innings Monday and batted for 135.2 of the 145 overs, sharing partnerships of 124 with Brendan Nash (65) and 70 with Fidel Edwards (20) which steered his team away from the threat of defeat. West Indies had resumed their second innings at 278 for seven today, leading by 214 runs but still in a precarious position. Gayle's long vigil and the solid effort of their lower order, particularly Edwards and Jerome Taylor (22), made defeat less likely for Gayle's men.

"It's been a good series even though no-one won the series," Gayle said. "This is an achievement for us to get a draw. We would have liked to win, obviously, but to get a draw in these circumstances is still an achievement. "I thought there were a lot of positives for us throughout the series: the batting of Brendan Nash in the second Test, Fidel Edwards' best bowling performance (7-87), Jerome Taylor's maiden Test century in the first Test. If we can go on like this it could be very good for this team."

West Indies' innings ended right on lunch on the last day, leaving New Zealand a challenging run rate of five per over to reach the victory target. At 170-3 in the 38th over, with Taylor 46 and Ryder in commanding form, with 142 runs needed and more than 22 overs remaining, New Zealand seemed in with a chance. But Taylor's dismissal after a rollicking 50-ball innings which included three fours and two sixes, set back the New Zealand run chase.

McCullum and Ryder's partnership offered a last chance to the home team and, again, the fifth-wicket pair showed positive intent and had added 33 when McCullum was judged caught behind for 19. McCullum attempted to pull a ball from Taylor and was caught off what appeared to be a bottom edge. He immediately disputed the decision of the umpire Rudi Koertzen and referred it for reappraisal to television umpire Mark Benson. Benson, unable to reach a conclusive decision, returned the matter to Koertzen and his original decision stood. Television replays showed McCullum had not come close to hitting the ball.

New Zealand then sought to play out time and the match ended shortly before 1900 local time. "It was a much better performance from us and, while we're not entirely happy with a draw, if we continue to perform to that level we will pick up a Test win sometime this summer," Vettori said. *AP