New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori has suggested Shivnarine Chanderpaul is an irritation they will simply have to live with when the West Indies bat in the second cricket test at McLean Park in Napier.
Vettori has admitted an unruffled and in form Chanderpaul was one of the most difficult opponents he had encountered in his 11-year test career – especially now the 34-year-old left hander is locked into a dream run of form.
Chanderpaul, who averaged a mere 14.80 the last time the West Indies played a test series here two years ago, is the foundation around which the tourists’ strokemakers can express themselves.
The former skipper made an effortless 76 in the first innings at Dunedin, his 200-ball contribution a continuation of a sequence that saw him reap 1265 runs in his last 20 innings at 105.41 since December 2006.
Chanderpaul shared in a 153-run stand with maiden test centurion Jerome Taylor, a partnership that may have shifted the momentum the West Indies way had rain not washed out the final day at University Oval.
And he never really looked like getting out until he had a slog sweep to Vettori when the West Indies were nine down and within range of New Zealand’s first innings.
Vettori admitted Chanderpaul was a challenging adversary but ironically for all the time the Guyanan spends at the crease, the New Zealanders were not necessarily concerned.
“Chanderpaul is an interesting one,” Vettori said.
“He’s a very good player but I suppose he just bats for a long periods of time so you don’t feel like the game is getting away from you as opposed to a guy like (Chris) Gayle or the way that (Jerome) Taylor played in that innings.
“That is when you get really worried about the game situation.”
Gayle slammed an aggressive 74 at the top of the order while Taylor’s 106 – though it may prove an aberration – exposed New Zealand’s seam attack in Dunedin.
Chanderpaul, meanwhile, went about his business, nudging and deflecting to feed Taylor the strike.
“I suppose that fact that he is not tearing you apart makes it a bit easier,” Vettori said of the battle with the West Indies’ leading batsman.
“We have plans in place but we weren’t consistent enough against him. When you have guys as patient as he is you have to be consistent.”
Vettori admitted he could not help but admire Chanderpaul’s stickability when he bats at No 5.
“Over the last couple of years he’s got better and better,” he said.
“Everyone thinks there’s a chance you can get every batsman at the start of his innings but he seems to be pretty comfortable all the way through.”
However, for all Chanderpaul’s prowess he is yet to score a test century against New Zealand in 12 tests – Taylor managed that feat at his second attempt and the bowlers have tailored their approach to the No 8 accordingly.
“Now we’ve seen him, we’ve identified where to bowl to him,” said New Zealand coach Andy Moles.
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s struggling batsman Jamie How has been given another vote of confidence on the eve of his second test on his home ground.
The Central Districts right hander has averaged 14.60 from his last 10 innings but Vettori joined Moles in maintaining faith with the 17-test opener.
“Everyone within the group wants Jamie to succeed. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve seen.
“He knows the ground very well and hopefully he is comfortable with himself and not thinking `I have to score runs here or I’m in a bit of trouble’,” Vettori said.
“The selectors acknowledge he can be a very good opener and they want to give him as long as possible.
“I know people will question that but he has the technique and temperament to be a very good test opener and a one-day opener or No 3.”
Fortunately the weather forecast is promising for the formative stages of the test, after the first test was ruined when two days were washed out.