Darren Bravo made a potentially match-saving double century to lead the West Indies to 443-6 at stumps on the fourth day of the first test Friday, frustrating New Zealand and preventing the tourists’ third-straight innings defeat in tests.
Bravo’s fifth century and highest test score surpassing his 195 against Bangladesh two years ago saw the West Indies edge into the lead, 47 runs ahead. The visitors are following-on, having been bowled out for 213 in their first innings in reply to New Zealand’s 609-9 declared.
By stumps, Bravo was 210 not out and captain Darren Sammy 44.
Kirk Edwards and Narsingh Deonarine made half-centuries, while Ish Sodhi has 2-130 to be the only bowler with more than one wicket.
The loss of two wickets in the first half hour on Friday, including the key dismissal of Shivnarine Chanderpaul for 1, left the West Indies 185-4 and apparently with little hope of avoiding an innings defeat to follow those they suffered in each of their two tests against India last month.
But Bravo refused to abandon his team to that fate and by stumps had batted 558 minutes, including all of day four, to make the match a contest.
At 195, Bravo passed his previous highest test score but then was briefly becalmed, unable to find a gap in the field through which to thread the run he needed to complete his double century. He finally edged a ball wide of first slip for the single that completed a double century from 390 balls in exactly nine hours.
Bravo had 28 boundaries in his 200 and they demonstrated the variety of his strokeplay, a menu of forceful drives through off and sharp cuts and pulls from short-pitched deliveries.
Deonarine gave him stoic support either side of lunch, reaching his fifth test half century and batting more than three hours. Together for the fifth wicket, he and Bravo took the West Indies from 185-4 to 307-5, and towards relief from the threat of innings defeat
New Zealand’s bowlers captured only four wickets in the day. Two of those came early, when Marlon Samuels was out for 23 in the third over of the day and Chanderpaul for 1 in the eighth.
New Zealand’s bowling was not as good as it had been in the first innings, nor was the pitch as lively. The green-top at the University Oval on which Sammy chose to bowl after winning the toss has become flat and slow, only dangerous to batsmen because of its variable bounce.
Leg-spinner Sodhi, in his first test at home, enjoyed his career highlight when he bowled Ramdin with a perfect wrong-un.
“It’s been hard work but I guess that’s what test cricket is,” Sodhi said. “I’m only in my third test but some of these guys have been doing it for quite a while so ask them what it’s like.
“I would like to think I created a few opportunities. They didn’t come today but hopefully they come tomorrow.”