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June 9, 2014
West Indies 19 for 0 trail New Zealand 508 for 7 dec (Williamson 113, Neesham 107, Watling 89, Taylor 55) by 489 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
West Indies were one wicket away from having a crack at New Zealand's tail during the morning session of the second day at Sabina Park. They did not take it for 60.3 overs. The visitors' last line of recognised batsmen, allrounder Jimmy Neesham and wicketkeeper BJ Watling, took advantage of tiring bowlers and a placid pitch to put on 201 runs for the sixth wicket, and all but erase West Indies' hopes of winning Chris Gayle's 100th Test.
Neesham was the first to attempt an aggressive approach on a sluggish surface and his methods made him the eighth batsman to score hundreds in his first two Tests. His partnership with Watling - compiled at 3.32 an over - was the fastest of the match, discounting the flurry from Tim Southee as New Zealand declared on 508 for 7 late in the day. The turnaround in tempo was remarkable, for New Zealand had scored only 59 in the first session for the loss of Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum.
There were shots played after lunch, which was a drastic change from New Zealand's morning. Watling was strong square of the wicket, cutting and pulling, while Neesham's preferred region was between long-off and wide long-on. Early in the session, he stepped out and hit Suliemann Benn flat over the fielder at mid-on.
A standout feature of Neesham's innings was his inclination to use his feet on this slow pitch. He stepped out twice to hit Shane Shillingford over the straight boundary for the innings' first sixes in the 137th over, and continued advancing against Shillingford and Marlon Samuels, targeting the wide long-on boundary. Neesham passed 50 off 103 balls and then accelerated, getting to 100 off 159.
Between the boundaries, Neesham and Watling rotated strike comfortably, taking advantage of fatigued fielders. With Benn and Shillingford having bowled more than 40 overs each, West Indies captain Denesh Ramdin turned to Chris Gayle, who had last bowled in a Test in November 2012, but had no luck.
After scoring 129 runs in the second session, New Zealand were slow initially after tea. Neesham was approaching his century and eventually got there with graceful cover-drives off Benn and Jerome Taylor.
His partner Watling was so adept at scoring behind and square of the wicket that he had got to 72 without scoring a single run in the V. He then pushed one to mid-on, before charging Shillingford and hitting him for a straight six. Watling's success through point and square leg was an indication of the shorter lengths West Indies bowled to him. The quicks Taylor and Kemar Roach, in particular, had flagged after probing first spells.
Neesham's attempt at slogging after his century was short-lived; he was caught behind off Benn for 107. His average after three Test innings was 138.50. West Indies finally had their breakthrough but got hit around by Southee until Watling holed out to deep midwicket and the declaration came.
The morning had been so different for the home side. They had controlled the run-rate and taken crucial wickets. Williamson had overestimated the turn and shouldered arms to a delivery from Benn, only to hear his off stump take a hit. Williamson had been so good at leaving the fast bowlers, but eventually added only 8 to his overnight score.
New Zealand were still in a healthy position at 259 for 3 but they lost their most experienced batsmen quickly. Shortly after reaching his fifty, Taylor chipped a flighted delivery from Shillingford straight to midwicket. In the next over, Benn got one to spin and bounce sharply on McCullum; the ball took the outside edge and bounced off Ramdin's chest towards first slip, where Gayle took the catch. New Zealand had slipped to 279 for 5.
Neesham and Watling methodically batted out the remainder of the session, giving little indication of the dominance they would exert for the remainder of the day.
West Indies' openers, Gayle and Kieran Powell, had nine overs of flat-out intensity to negotiate from New Zealand's bowlers. Powell was lucky to survive, when he edged Tim Southee to third slip where Peter Fulton put down a simple catch. Gayle had no such scares, and it is him that most fans will flock to watch on Tuesday, hoping for a memorable innings in his 100th Test.
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