SPORT

Test ends in draw; historic series win for Kiwis

Kiwi captain Stephen Fleming waves the New Zealand flag after winning the Test series 1-0 against the West Indies at the National Stadium in St. George on Tuesday. — AP

Kiwi captain Stephen Fleming waves the New Zealand flag after winning the Test series 1-0 against the West Indies at the National Stadium in St. George on Tuesday. — AP  

ST. GEORGE'S (GRENADA) JULY 3. Scott Styris and Robbie Hart shared a crucial, unbroken sixth wicket partnership of 99 to secure New Zealand a draw on Tuesday in the second and final cricket Test against the West Indies at the Queen's Park Stadium.

The result secured a historical 1-0 series victory for the Kiwis, who won the opening Test in Barbados by 204 runs. It was their first series win in the Caribbean on their fourth tour.

It was also the first time the West Indies went without a Test win in a home series since Australia beat it 2-0 in 1973.

New Zealand, overnight 139 for two, lost three early wickets before Styris and Hart, the two least experienced New Zealand players, stonewalled the home team's challenge. When persistent rain finally brought a premature end to the match two hours early, New Zealand was 256 for five in the second innings, comfortably ahead by 159.

Styris, on debut, followed his 107 in the first innings with an accomplished 69 not out off 145 balls with seven fours and a six. Wicket-keeper Hart, in just his third Test, hit two boundaries in an undefeated 28 off 121 balls.

Styris, the Northern Districts all-rounder who turns 27 on July 10, became the third New Zealander to notch a century and a half-century in his first Test. He joins Rodney Redmond (107 and 56 vs. Pakistan, Auckland, 1973) and Lou Vincent (104 and 54 vs. Australia, Perth, 2001-02).

He and the 27-year-old Hart spent three hours and 42 overs, reviving the innings after the West Indies struck early to lift their hopes.

On a wearing pitch, Mahendra Nagamootoo's leg-spin and captain Carl Hooper's off-spin proved a handful as the Black Caps slumped to 157 for five within the first hour.

Nagamootoo, who had Mark Richardson dropped by wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs early on, eventually got the deserved wicket of the left-hander. Jacobs atoned for his earlier miss as he snared a leg side nick from Richardson, who added just two to his overnight 69.

One run later, Hooper claimed the dangerous Nathan Astle for a duck as Wavell Hinds clung on to an excellent juggling catch at short leg off the inside edge.

Nagamootoo further undermined the tourist's innings when he claimed Chris Harris (17), who under-edged a sweep off bat and pad to silly point.

But Styris showed the composure gained from his century on debut in the first innings and gradually guided his team to safe waters. He was ably assisted by Hart, who gave him solid support with slightly more alarms.

Hooper took the second new ball just before lunch but his pacers Pedro Collins and Cameron Cuffy could not make an impression. Spin again took centre stage after the break, but Styris and Hart remained defiant before persistent rain came to have the final say.

Two breaks in the middle session limited play to 16 overs and heavier showers returned just after tea to finally end the match.

I had a few nervous moments: Fleming

Meanwhile, New Zealand cricket captain Stephen Fleming admitted he had a few nervous moments before his team celebrated its first Test series win in the West Indies after drawing the second Test at Queen's Park Stadium.

``In the first hour I was very concerned,'' Fleming said on Tuesday at the post-match media conference. ``The mood in the dressing room confirmed everyone's feeling that we were in trouble.''

``It took a big effort from two inexperienced players to get us out of a hole again,'' Fleming said. ``This is fantastic. It's one of the highlights of my career,'' he said. ``You talk about gloss. This is as glossy as it gets.'' ``A series win is something you savour for a long time, especially in New Zealand and especially when you tour a place like the West Indies,'' Fleming said.

West Indies coach Roger Harper credited the New Zealanders for fighting their way back to seal the series. ``They had difficult periods and they rallied through them,'' the former Test off-spinner said. ``Their lower order showed a bit more determination and a lot of discipline and they got them out of some pretty deep holes.''

Captain Carl Hooper said that the Black Caps' team spirit was a key element in their success. ``The New Zealand side plays as a team. I think that's where their strength lies,'' Hooper said. ``I wouldn't say they haven't got any talented players. But they have a lot of players you tend to underestimate.'' — AP

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