Wellington: New Zealand were not as consistent with the ball as they would have wanted to be but they still prised out four West Indies wickets after nearly a session was lost to rain in Wellington. The efforts of BJ Watling and Trent Boult with the bat earlier meant they still had a buffer of 283 runs at stumps with the last specialist batting pair in the middle. West Indies started reasonably well against the new ball, after copping plenty of damage on the field, but New Zealand kept finding the wicket-taking delivery to end the day clearly in front.
The West Indies openers Kirk Edwards and Kieran Powell survived over an hour to add 46 despite several close shaves. Edwards was hit by Boult on the pad without offering a stroke as early as the first over but the ball would have gone over the stumps. Both batsmen were beaten several times. Powell edged a couple but he also played softly so that the ball didn’t carry to the slips. The pair made sure they didn’t go after good deliveries and waited for width. New Zealand didn’t make the batsmen play nearly enough, and it was only in the 15th over that the breakthrough came.
Southee, who hadn’t quite found his rhythm in his opening spell, struck Powell in front as the batsman missed a flick in the first over of his second spell. Corey Anderson showed his value again as a bowler, generating movement and nip to have Darren Bravo edge early to second slip.
Edwards, meanwhile, had grown in confidence and was beginning to time his drives through the off side. Marlon Samuels often got himself into awkward positions with his habit of walking across outside off but also counterattacked with several fours. The pair had taken West Indies past 100 when Anderson produced another wicket, Edwards getting a leading edge to cover on 55.
Another New Zealand bowler came back to pick up a wicket in the first over of his second spell. Boult had Shivnarine Chanderpaul reaching out to scoop a drive to cover-point. Immediately after Chanderpaul left, the legspinner Ish Sodhi was brought on. He dropped it short frequently, and Samuels helped himself to easy boundaries to motor to a half-century in 55 balls. New Zealand tried more spin in the form of Kane Williamson, but even his two overs proved expensive, Narsingh Deonarine cashing in this time. The stand grew to 39 by stumps, but Watling and Boult’s hitting had given New Zealand quite a headstart.
The same story had played out in the morning after rain delayed the start by an hour and 15 minutes. Another day, another dropped catch from West Indies, and another New Zealand batsman making them pay. Had Tino Best not made a total misjudgment at deep midwicket, Boult would have been gone for 3 to Shane Shillingford, and New Zealand would have been dismissed for 386. Instead, Best palmed the slog over the boundary, and the final pair of Boult and Watling proceeded to thrash 58 runs at over a run a ball. By the time Watling missed a slog off Shannon Gabriel to be bowled for 65, New Zealand had surged to 441, an addition of 134 runs in 25.1 overs to their overnight 307 for 6. On day one, West Indies had put down Ross Taylor on zero and watched him make 129.
New Zealand’s progress was largely down to Watling, who showed his versatility by constantly doing what the situation demanded. On the first evening, he had stonewalled to 8 off 47 as stumps approached. This morning, he and Southee came out positive, attacking anything either too short and wide or too full.
After Southee fell, New Zealand were to string together another useful stand, of 49 between Sodhi and Watling. Sodhi was extremely competent for a No. 9. Watling, seeing that Sodhi was in no trouble, turned the strike over as regularly as one would alongside a specialist batsman.
Shaking off their initial waywardness, West Indies targeted the fuller lengths they had largely missed on the first day. Gabriel, especially, was unlucky not to break through, going past the edge on a few occasions. However, having batted with so much calm, Sodhi suddenly had a loose waft at a wide one from Best to depart for 27.
Soon began the entertainment from Boult. He charged Shillingford thrice, cleanly striking a boundary down the ground each time, the last one sailing for six. Soon, the partnership had tallied 50 off just 47 balls. Boult would remain unbeaten on 38 off 27, but it would be two-and-a-half hours before he would get a crack at West Indies, as the rain came down again after the end of New Zealand’s innings.
West Indies 158 for 4 (Edwards 55, Samuels 50*) trail New Zealand 441 (Taylor 129, Watling 65, Best 4-110) by 283 runs