Off-spinner Sunil Narine puts Black Caps to test
IAN ANDERSON IN HAMILTON
Seeking a cracking Christmas puzzle? Try and work out why Sunil Narine didn't play the first two tests against New Zealand.
The West Indian off-spinner took his test-best haul of 6-91 in Hamilton yesterday as his side chased a series-levelling win in the third test.
Unfortunately, his team-mates let him down with the bat, meaning Narine will have to likely perform wonders today to halt what looks like an inevitable 2-0 series defeat.
The West Indies batting has been so woeful that even the presence of Narine in the first two tests may not have changed the scorelines, but there was the distinct feeling of "what if?" had he played a part throughout the entire series.
Narine proved a handful for all the Black Caps batsmen over lengthy stints on days two and three at Seddon Park. The 25-year-old has a nifty array of tricks and used them to often bamboozle the hosts, who chiefly had the irrepressible Ross Taylor to thank for narrowing the gap between the two teams in their first innings reply.
Narine didn't play the first two tests in Dunedin and Wellington, which resulted in a draw and a New Zealand victory respectively. He became guaranteed a start in Hamilton when fellow off-spinner Shane Shillingford was banned by the ICC for an illegal bowling action.
"I think Shane Shillingford has been doing a fantastic job," Narine said when quizzed on why he wasn't chosen until Hamilton.
"He has been the main test spinner and I think he has been doing a good job, so I don't think that I was demanding a spot after not really dominating in test cricket.
"So you have to wait for the opportunity.
"I didn't think that coming to New Zealand we would have played two spinners.
"So it was a bit of a surprise coming into the wicket here and we were expecting more green grass than dry grass."
It's just the sixth test appearance for Narine, who took a match-winning 8-223 off a staggering 93 overs when the Windies beat New Zealand by nine wickets in the first test in Antigua in July last year.
He took 4-85 in the second test against the Black Caps as the Windies won by five wickets to claim a 2-0 series win.
Yet in two matches in Bangladesh later that year, he could only manage three wickets at the cost of over 110 runs per wicket.
Narine, who will be part of the Windies team for the one-day series starting on Boxing Day, was reluctant to say he had the wood on the New Zealand batsmen.
"I wouldn't say a hold.
"At the end of day if you bowl well you tend to get wickets. I'll just say I had a good day and hopefully have plenty more to come."
- Sunday Star Times
With the World Cup just around the corner, how do you think the Black Caps will go?