New Zealand beat the West Indies by eight wickets in the third Test in Hamilton, New Zealand to complete a 2-0 series victory. Chasing 122 for victory on Day 4 after skittling the tourists for 103 on Saturday, the Black Caps reached their target shortly after lunch. This was the first time since March 2006 that New Zealand had achieved back-to-back test victories against a top-eight side. The Kiwis began the day on six without loss and reached their target comfortably for the loss of only two wickets after the West Indies, who looked like they had gained a slight advantage following a mesmerising spell of spin bolwing by Sunil Narine, collapsed tamely in the face of a devastating spell of New Zealand swing bowling.
The rapid end to the match surprised New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum after his side trailed by 18 runs on the first innings, thanks to Sunil Narine and Darren Sammy’s heroics. “I certainly didn’t expect it to end up as quickly as this,” McCullum said, admitting he probably made the wrong decision to bowl first.
“In hindsight we should have batted first. We misread the wicket and once we saw it turning and bouncing the way it did there was a bit of concern.”
Peter Fulton again missed out on the opportunity to get some runs under his belt when he offered a return catch to West Indies captain Darren Sammy and fell for 10. Hamish Rutherford though had other ideas. After having missed out in the first innings, predominantly due to his own premature exhuberance, the New Zealand opener looked solid and capably partnered the stylish Kane Williamson, who brought up his 12th test half-century in just 74 balls, and nearly carried the hosts to the finish line before falling for 56 after being clean bowled by Veerasammy Permaul.
Ross Taylor, who has been in scintillating form this series, brought up his third century in the series to guide New Zealand close to the West indian total after Sunil Narine had done some early damage to the hosts. Narine’s genius with the ball, coupled with a sprightly fielding effort from the visitors ensured they had a slender lead after the second innings. But once New Zealand seamers Trent Boult and Tim Southee tore through the West Indies’ second innings, bundling out the tourists for a paltry 103, it became easy work for New Zealand to bat out the win.
Rutherford, who was stuck at the spinner’s end for a prolonged spell, offered a chance on 20 but Permaul did not see the ball quickly enough and couldn’t react in time. When he was on 24, Rutherford was given out caught behind, but the decision was overturned on appeal with the video replay showing the sound was the bat hitting the ground.
The game underwent a remarkable change in the scenario as the hosts, who seemed clueless against the bowling of Sunil Narine in the first innings on a wicket that was keeping the spinners interested, turned the game around after poor shot selection from the West Indies batsmen against the swing bowling of Boult and Southee eventually brought about their demise.
“I’m most disappointed with our performance. We did not foresee what happened. We were thinking above 200 on the last day when we got spinning with the Narine factor it would be an interesting game.”, said skipper Darren Sammy after his side were bundled out in just 32 overs in their second innings.
New Zealand can thank pace bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee as well as experienced batsman Ross Taylor for their convincing 2-0 series win. Taylor, with 131 in the first innings, scored 495 in five innings in the series and he was only dismissed twice. From 10 Tests in the 2013 calendar year he averages 72.16. Boult took 20 wickets in the series at an average of 15.40 and Southee wasn’t far behind with 18 dismissals.
West Indies entered the series in sixth position in the ICC Test rankings but now drop to seventh place behind Sri Lanka.
New Zealand stay in eighth place but have improved to 82 points ahead of a two-Test series in India in February.