Chris Gayle’s quickfire knock ensured West Indies were not to be denied a series-levelling 10-wicket victory against New Zealand on the final day of the second Test in Port of Spain.
A combination of tremendous rearguard action from BJ Watling and Mark Craig for the ninth wicket plus the inclement weather on Friday had given the Black Caps a small chance of emerging with a draw.
The tourists were bowled out to leave a paltry victory target of 93 and after the rain had cleared, Gayle blazed his way to 80 not out off just 46 balls, with seven fours and six sixes, as the Windies sealed a commanding triumph in 13.2 overs.
New Zealand can be heartened by the battling qualities they showed, however, as they appeared on course for an innings defeat when they fell to 213-8 on Thursday evening, still needing another 26 to make their opponents bat again.
That they managed to take the game into a fifth day was down to Watling and Craig, who dug in on Friday morning to frustrate the Windies’ victory charge with battling fifties.
Craig, however, led a charmed life as he was dropped in the slip cordon off successive balls from Jerome Taylor in the third over of the day.
Both drops went for four, with Craig then going to his half-century off 126 balls with a two through cover, while Watling nudged a Taylor full toss past mid-on for a couple of runs that brought up his 50 off 161 deliveries a little later.
The two made it past the first hour in miserable conditions but Kemar Roach made the breakthrough to end the partnership one run shy of a century stand.
Craig looked to drive through the offside but succeeded in edging behind to end his innings on 67 and although last man Trent Boult resisted after a rain delay, he too edged to wicketkeeper Dinesh Ramdin off Shannon Gabriel as New Zealand were all out for 331, with Watling stranded on 66 not out.
Another break for rain left the Windies on tenterhooks but it stopped shortly after lunch and Gayle made hay while the sun shone, scoring the winning runs less than an hour after taking to the field.
He thumped a four through midwicket off the first delivery from Tim Southee to set the tone for the innings before crunching three sixes in four balls off Boult.
His fourth six in the eighth over off Ish Sodhi took him to 51 off 28 balls – the second fastest half-century by a West Indian in Tests.
The left-hander continued uninhibited and, with Kraigg Brathwaite happy to play a supporting role, fittingly scored the winning runs by cutting Kane Williamson for four in the 14th over.