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July 29, 2012
By the time New Zealand ended West Indies' first innings at lunch on the fourth day, they had conceded a lead of 171 with five sessions left in the Test. The challenge ahead of the visitors was a test of mental strength as much as skills. Martin Guptill responded with his second half-century of the match and his partnership with Brendon McCullum left New Zealand in a sound position to save the game.
After an opening partnership of 47 in less than 11 overs, Guptill added 123 for the second wicket before he was dismissed on 67 by Sunil Narine. McCullum contributed 84 before Kemar Roach bowled him late in the day. Their efforts allowed New Zealand to finish 28 ahead with seven wickets in hand.
"We did a good job out there," Guptill said. "Myself and Flynny ]Daniel Flynn] first off and then myself and Brendon put on a good partnership there, and [it was] a little bit disappointing to get out in the end but that's the way cricket is.
"It was difficult. It was hot out there, and it's always difficult on these slow wickets but they bowled very well to us and myself and Brendon combated that pretty well. We scored at a better rate this innings that we did in the first innings, and that's put us in a good stead to set up tomorrow.
New Zealand are one good session away from saving this Test and Guptill backed Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson to pull it off. He said Williamson had proven himself in such situations, having secured a draw with 102 against South Africa in Wellington this year.
"We've got some class batsmen to come in and Kane showed what he can do in the last Test against South Africa, and we have Ross now at the crease who is a class act as well," he said. "We've got plenty of batting there to come. It [the Wellington Test] gives us a lot of confidence because we've been there and done it."
The key to surviving the fifth day will be negotiating Narine, who took five wickets in the first innings and has two so far in the second. Guptill felt New Zealand were growing more adept at playing the spinner.
"It's just watching the ball hard and watching what his [Narine's] hand is doing. You can pick up a couple of little keys with his delivery, and if you can pick those up then you're doing well in picking him," Guptill said. "We've played him a lot this series and watching his hand, it's getting easier the more you face him.
Guptill was out to a Narine delivery that bounced, touched his glove and was caught by short leg. "You have to watch the ball hard and be able to pick him, and I thought myself and Brendon played him pretty well today. There were a few balls that kicked up a bit and I got out to one of them, it's just one of those things."
New Zealand had been unable to take the last four West Indies wickets quickly in the morning, and the hosts extended their lead from 91 to 171. Guptill, however, was pleased at the timing of the close of innings - the stroke of lunch.
"The guys showed great toil this morning with the ball and the last four wickets fell at the stroke of lunch, which let us to go inside and refresh a bit before we came out and batted."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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