Black Caps seal historic series win By Tony Cozier in St George's
Stabroek News
July 3, 2002

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THE West Indies could get so far but no further in their desperate effort for a series-saving - and face-saving - victory in the second Test yesterday.

At the frustrating end, they had to settle for the draw that protected New Zealand's emphatic triumph by 204 runs in the first Test, secured them their first series on their fourth tour of the Caribbean and made them the first team since Ian Chappell's Australians in 1973 to return from these parts without losing a Test.

The West Indies were stymied, first and most effectively, by Scott Styris and Robbie Hart, two novices to Test match cricket and finally by the first significant rainfall since the first One-day international in Jamaica that put a full stop to proceedings with two hours and a minimum of 22 overs available.

Stryis, in his first Test, and wicket-keeper Hart, in his third, batted with the level-headed assurance of veterans to check the home team's spirited effort in the first hour when Mahendra Nagamotoo and captain Carl Hooper claimed three good wickets and New Zealand tottered on the brink of collapse and defeat.

The match was already realistically out of the West Indies hands when the rain, that had been feared throughout a series scheduled in the early weeks of the rainy season, finally descended on the National Stadium.

It came in waves that interrupted play on three occasions, bringing Grenada's inaugural Test to an anti-climatic end.

New Zealand were 256 for five with Styris 69 and Hart 28 and their unbroken partnership worth 99 after three hours untroubled defiance.

Styris, the well-built 27-year-old all-rounder, had already made his mark in the One-day internationals and joined an elite group of players with his 107 on Test debut in the first innings.

He extended his entries into the record book by becoming the tenth player to mark his entry into Test cricket with a century and a half century. Since one of his two wickets in the West Indies innings was Brian Lara's he had reason to carry happy memories of the Spice Island.

Like Styris, who might not have been in the team but for the absence of New Zealand's finest all-rounder Chris Cairns through injury, Hart's Northern Districts teammate has emphasised the strength of their cricket in both Tests.

He has just replaced the retired Adam Parore, their reliable, long-time wicket-keeper, and spent over nine hours defying the West Indies bowling in his four innings in the series. The two completely changed the course of the day, if not the mood of another lively crowd of around 5,000.

They took advantage of reduced prices and the carnival-like atmosphere that, for a period during the afternoon, attracted some of the New Zealand players' lively womenfolk into the teeming popular section.

When Hooper, with his off-spin, and Nagamootoo, with his quick, flat leg-breaks and googlies, were tormenting New Zealand's jittery leading batsmen in the first hour as if they were the modern-day Ramadhin and Valentine pairing, the possible had turned into the probable inside 20 minutes.

Mark Richardson, who had held firm for four and a quarter hours on the previous afternoon, Nathan Astle, a seasoned campaigner in his 53rd Test, and Chris Harris, the longest-serving international in their ranks, all fell in the space of 5.2 overs and nine runs. The left-handed Richard-son survived a chance to Ridley Jacobs from an edged cut off Nagamootoo but fell to a more difficult leg-side take by the wickt-keeper in the leg-spinner's next over after adding only two to his overnight 69.

Astle, in his 55th Test, went for 0 to Wavell Hinds' juggling catch at short-leg from bat and pad off Hooper and the left-handed Harris' top-edged sweep popped another short-leg catch to the diving Ramnaresh Sarwan off Nagamootoo for 17.

With New Zealand 157 for five, a slim overall lead of 60, and Craig McMillan unable to take his usual No.6 position because of three stitches in his left hand cut by one of Chris Gayle's blistering drives on Sunday, the West Indies were half-way towards their goal.

Styris had a few early alarms against Nagamootoo, an inside-edge that flew over Sarwan at short-leg and a close lbw decision turned down by umpire Venkataraghavan.

He was 16 when a more accurate return to bowler Hooper might have run him out but he and Hart gradually became established and the West Indies' intensity visibly waned.

Balls that were finding the pad or tentative bats were progressively meeting the middle, prompting Hooper to turn to Pedro Collins and Cameron Cuffy with the second new ball 20 minutes to lunch.

Collins' inswingers found Hart's pads three times in his first over but were missing leg-stump. When Styris padded up to another that was on line, umpire Rudi Koertzen had understandable doubt over the height.

Hooper and Nagamootoo soon took over again after lunch but, by then, the tide had turned towards the New Zealanders, the weather had changed and the result they desired became an increasingly distant hope for a West Indies team. They would look back to three hours of batting madness on the second day of the first Test at Kensington and acknowledge that it cost them the series and spoiled the satisfaction of their early 2-1 success over India.