New Zealand, young, inexperienced and weakened by injuries to key players, resume this morning needing 126 to avert an innings defeat with six wickets remaining against an attack refreshed after the rest day.
Their despair is compounded by the groin injury that has reduced their first-innings top scorer, Adam Parore, to a hobble and will oblige him to use a runner. It has also put him out of the second, and final, Test starting in Antigua on Saturday.
Even with the win that should be theirs, their captain Courtney Walsh and coach Clive Lloyd, in their first Test together, are realistic enough to put the situation into its proper perspective.
Apart from Parore's injury, all-rounder Chris Cairns and fast bowler Dion Nash were not able to play at all, rendering an already limited New Zealand team as weak as any in international cricket. Even so the West Indies had to perform on the field. Kenya and others who have embarrassed them in the past year were even weaker than the New Zealanders.
The assertive triumph that seems assured comes as a relief. The West Indies can take heart from the maturity of their two youngest batsmen. Sherwin Campbell, 25, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 21, set up their comfortable first-innings lead after Brian Lara's early dismissal had increased the pressure.
Messed around by selectors, both came into the Test with their places still not entirely settled. They will be now. Campbell's magnificent 208, his first century in Tests let alone double hundred, was the innings of a true opening batsman. The peculiar demands of one-day cricket had unsettled him and cost him his place during the World Cup.
It is difficult to understand why Keith Arthurton, an inferior left-hander, should have been preferred to Chanderpaul for so long. The eight Tests Chanderpaul missed against Australia and England last year was valuable time wasted. His 82 was his eighth score over 50 in 14 Test innings and the elusive century should not be long in coming.
FIRST TEST (Bridgetown, Barbados): New Zealand 195 (A C Parore 59, N J Astle 54; J C Adams 5-17) and 154-4 (Astle 82no); West Indies 472 (S L Campbell 208, S Chanderpaul 82).Reuse content