Ramdin's costly mistake

Brian Lara arrived in Auckland bristling at what he called the lack of respect the New Zealand media had shown to West Indies cricket by disparaging the team's weak performance in losing the first four one-day internationals.

He said he detected "a hunger in the team", warned that he had a "strong desire to win" and predicted that the series of three Tests "could be the turning point".

Whether energised by his presence or not, the West Indies won the last of the five one-day games and, in spite of an already weak attack depleted by injury that limited fast bowler Jerome Taylor to eight overs, have matched New Zealand over the first three days of the First Test.

After a failure in the first innings, caught at mid-wicket for five off the first ball he received from New Zealand's fit-again spearhead Shane Bond, Lara was waiting in the wings to help prove his point tomorrow.

The West Indies were 48 for 0, in pursuit of 291 for their first Test win overseas since defeating Zimbabwe in Bulawayo three years ago. Their target would certainly have been less demanding - only one team have scored as many to win an Auckland Test - but for a critical missed catch by the 20-year-old wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin.

It came just before lunch with New Zealand struggling at 150 for 7, a lead of 168. The fumble reprieved Daniel Vettori on his second ball off Ian Bradshaw, the left-arm seamer who has manfully led the weak West Indies attack on debut, aged 31. It set the stage for a recovery centred around the pugnacious wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum, who had a six and seven fours in his top score of 74.

The left-handed Vettori remained for the next hour and 20 minutes to add 56 with McCullum. When he was one of off-spinner Chris Gayle's four victims, McCullum found another able partner in Bond with whom he put on 62.

Already four down for 98 at the start, New Zealand soon lost captain Stephen Fleming in the third over. The nightwatchman James Franklin and Nathan Astle followed just before lunch but Ramdin's error loosened the West Indies' grip.

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