It seems like we're having a West Indies love-fest here at Cricket365, what with Chris Gayle and Sunil Narine receiving our coveted Player of the Week gong in recent times, and this Tuesday is no different!
While we would love to give it to Gayle again for his 150 and 64 not out against the New Zealanders in the first Test, or Narine for his eight wickets in the match, or maybe even Kemar Roach for his five scalps in the second innings, we're going to hand it to... Kierannnnnnn Powellllllllll!
The 22-year-old finally lived up to the potential displayed as a member of the Windies' Under-19 side not so long ago, and scored his first Test century in Antigua, recording 134 against the Kiwis. That wonderful innings included 22 boundaries and a six.
Powell has had a tough time of it without Gayle in the side, as his opening partners have been Adrian Barath and Kraigg Brathwaite, neither of whom covered themselves in glory.
Gayle's return from exile has energised Powell, and taught him a thing or two about facing the new ball. Before this innings, his top score had been 81, and he hadn't recorded anything higher than 40 since November last year.
All that being said, Powell didn't try to copy Gayle during their 254-run stand. He didn't try to bash everything in sight, and yet hit more fours than his illustrious partner. He made a point after his innings of saying he had to focus on NOT playing like Gayle, which showed maturity heretofore unseen in a Windies opener.
The statistics surrounding the Windies opening partnership are astonishing, really. This was the best first wicket stand for the team for the past 10 years, and the only one to go past 200. Only two century stands since 2002 have not involved Gayle. The last time a Windies opener scored a century was in 2010. Guess who scored it.
While this may seem like it's turned into a Gayle tribute piece, the point is that Powell has done extremely well to keep up with the Jamaican. Only Barath has scored a century as an opener, aside from Gayle, since 2009. Before that you have to go back to 2006 for a non-Gayle ton, this time by Daren Ganga.
Som well done Kieran, for bringing some variety to the Windies' line-up, for providing Gayle with a decent partner at the other end, and for keeping your head when you could have tried to slog-sweep every ball to the midwicket fence.
By Lindsay du Plessis