Kiwis wrap up series with 10-wicket win

Published: Monday, March 20, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Wellington:Stephen Fleming led New Zealand to an emphatic 10-wicket victory over the West Indies on the fourth day of the second cricket Test, to wrap up the series 2-0 with a game to spare here.

In terms of overs bowled, the win was achieved in just three days of cricket with only foul weather forcing play into the fourth day on Monday.

The West Indies started the day at 118 for four in their second innings and were all out for 215 leaving the New Zealand openers Jamie How and Hamish Marshall to quickly knock off the 36 runs required for the win.

But it was Fleming's man-of-the-match 97 that formed the basis of the commanding 180-run first innings lead that proved too big a hurdle for the West Indies to clear, and meant for the first time in New Zealand's cricket history they have won five successive Test matches.

With Peter Fulton adding 75 and Nathan Astle 65, New Zealand had firm control on the game by the time their innings ended at 372 early on the third day.

But while Fleming's batting paved the way, the New Zealand captain deflected the praise to his bowlers who came into their own following the shock withdrawal of ace speedster Shane Bond with a stomach virus just before the Test began.

"We were a little disappointed to lose Shane but Kyle (Mills) stepped up with six wickets in the match and we were well led by James (Franklin) and Chris (Martin) at the top."

The Test outcome was all but inevitable by the time rain ended play 90 minutes early on the third day with most of the West Indies danger batsmen already back in the pavilion.

When the weather cleared and play began an hour late on the fourth day, Chris Martin struck early, tempting Dwayne Bravo to hook to Nathan Astle at square leg, and Daniel Vettori bowled Denesh Ramdin in the last over before lunch to reduce the West Indies to 156 for six.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul bravely tried to prolong the outcome by providing stubborn resistance to a confident New Zealand bowling attack where everyone was taking wickets.

But the West Indies skipper fell soon after lunch when he knicked Kyle Mills to give Fleming, at first slip, his sixth catch of the game.

Rawl Lewis, with nothing to lose, hit out lustily and reached 40 before becoming the last wicket to fall, caught by Astle at mid-wicket off Mills.

But Lewis, like Daren Powell who fell for seven just before him, could consider himself unlucky as television replays appeared to show both wickets falling with Mills' front foot clearly in no-ball territory.

Mills finished with three for 29, while Martin, James Franklin and Vettori took two wickets each.

The least successful wicket-taker was Astle whose sole strike nevertheless claimed the crucial wicket of Brian Lara on the third day.

Lara has only amassed seven runs from four innings on tour, but Chanderpaul denied the lack of form of his star batsman was the main reason for the poor showing.

He said the West Indies made mistakes across the board after winning the toss and opting to bat.

"On a good wicket like that you need to put up a decent total on the board but we didn't, and in their first innings a few chances weren't taken and I felt if we had held them it would probably be a different outcome to this," he said.

The final Test begins in Napier on Saturday.

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