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Gayle, Chattergoon survive early pressure

DUNEDIN, New Zealand (CMC):

CHRIS GAYLE and Sewnarine Chattergoon survived a difficult 14 overs before closing time, after the West Indies made hay, when play resumed in the weather-marred opening Test against New Zealand on Friday (Jamaica time).

The West Indies, replying to the Black Caps' first innings total of 365, reached 39 without loss when stumps were drawn on the third day which opened 3-1/4 hours later than scheduled, after overnight rain left the University Oval outfield soaked.

Gayle, the West Indies captain, was not out on 29 and fellow left-hander Chattergoon was not out on nine, after fast bowlers Daren Powell, Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor got their groove back with the ball.

The three key West Indies fast bowlers looked under-cooked after New Zealand chose to bat on the opening day, but they had a long time to think, following the early close on the first day, a washout on the second without a ball bowled and the late start on Friday.

Success with second new ball

The trio responded to the challenge and Gayle's decision to claim the second new ball after the 85th over - the 11th of the day - brought the results.

Powell finished with 3-68 from 24 overs, Edwards 3-91 from 22 overs and Taylor claimed the vital scalp of New Zealand's most recognised batsman Brendon McCullum in 23 overs that cost 61.

Gayle, however, was the pick of the bowlers with 3- 42 from 21 overs of his uncomplicated offspin.

But West Indies did not have things all their way, as Jesse Ryder held firm for 89, while knocks of 30 from New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori and 25 from McCullum beefed up the home team's total.

Gayle and Chattergoon were then put under early pressure, as the New Zealand new-ball pair of Mark Gillespie and Kyle Mills got the ball to move appreciably through the air and off the pitch.

Freed shackles

However, Gayle started to free the shackles with typical aplomb when he smashed Mills for two off-side fours in an over and pulled Gillespie through mid-wicket and then over the same area off successive balls to put the two New Zealand antagonists on notice.

Chattergoon however, was far less convincing. He survived an lbw appeal off Mills which was referred to the video umpire as he scratched around for runs and would have been breathing a huge sigh of relief when the on-field umpires called 'time'.

Play was set to start a half-hour earlier than scheduled. Not a ball was possible in the morning period however, prompting umpires Mark Benson and Amiesh Saheba to call an early lunch after several inspections and discussions with the two captains.

With the sun fighting the clouds and temperatures hovering around single figures, play started, but there were lingering doubts about if the two teams would get through the 67 overs allocated for the remainder of the day, which was scheduled to close 4-3/4 hours later.

In the gloom, Powell and Taylor started brightly for the West Indies after New Zealand resumed from 226 for four when bad light had stopped play 16.4 overs early on the first day.

In the second full over of the day, the West Indies referred a decision to video umpire Rudi Koertzen when Ryder ducked into a short delivery from Powell, but the rotund batsman was given 'not out' because of the height.

Things started to happen for the visitors, when Gayle requested the second new ball and Edwards bent the first two deliveries past the wiggling McCullum's outside edge.

The West Indies did not have to wait too long before Taylor made the breakthrough about an hour before tea, when McCullum played forward, followed a well-pitched delivery moving away and nicked a catch to Denesh Ramdin after adding 89 with Ryder for the fifth wicket.

Sudden burst of energy

As he is prone to do, Edwards found a sudden burst of energy and so unsettled James Franklin that the lankly left-hander tried to turn a short ball into the legside, lost his footing and trampled on his stumps for a rare hit-wicket dismissal.

Powell replaced Edwards for the penultimate over before tea and Ryder tried to pull a short ball and was caught at mid-wicket two short of his Test best of 91 to leave New Zealand 311 for seven at the break.

After tea, there was more frustration for the West Indies as the New Zealand tail wagged for close to another 1-1/2 hours.

West Indies continued their struggle to knock over tailend batsmen as Vettori took the fight to them before he was caught at third man off Powell.

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