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The Report by Devashish Fuloria
June 18, 2014
New Zealand 221 and 73 for 1 (Williamson 38*, Latham 30*) trail West Indies 460 (Brathwaite 129, Bravo 109, Blackwood 63, Sodhi 4-96) by 166 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
News : Southee fined for confrontation with Edwards
News : Blackwood happy to build on good form
News : Partnerships key for NZ, says Sodhi
Players/Officials: Jermaine Blackwood
Series/Tournaments: New Zealand tour of West Indies
A half-century on debut from 22-year-old Jermaine Blackwood was the key performance on the third morning, during which West Indies stretched their first-innings lead to 239 in the Trinidad Test. Blackwood added 47 for the seventh wicket with Shivnarine Chanderpaul, then followed it up with a 76-run association with captain Denesh Ramdin to thwart New Zealand's plans of limiting the damage. In response, New Zealand were set back by the early loss of Brendon McCullum but held fort till the end of the day with old-fashioned attritional cricket. With two days remaining and a 166-run lead, West Indies are in pole position to square the series.
West Indies owed much to Blackwood, who was circumspect to start with and went hard at swinging deliveries. One inswinger from Boult cut him in half, but his response was to launch the next delivery over long-on for six. He was lucky early in his innings when Tom Latham could not hold on to a low chance at short leg. Blackwood was on 11 then. With the spinners serving up a regular dose of easy deliveries, he grew in confidence.
Ish Sodhi, the legspinner, went on to pick up four wickets, including those of Blackwood and Chanderpaul, but his inconsistency meant New Zealand neither controlled the flow of runs nor looked like taking a wicket in between. Blackwood found it easy to score runs off him - the full deliveries were smashed down the ground for a six and a four - and apart from the delivery that took the outside edge of his bat to slip, he didn't appear in any trouble and reached his maiden fifty off 93 balls. His dismissal spelt a quick end for the West Indies innings, but a healthy lead was already on the board.
And Sodhi was not the only bowler who struggled - Mark Craig, the hero of the Jamaica Test, went for 111 runs in 29 wicketless overs, Jimmy Neesham's seam-ups served no purpose, while Williamson was just steady at best.
While the ball was still new in the morning, New Zealand would have hoped to pick up early wickets. They were already behind by 89 runs, and Chanderpaul's stubborn presence meant West Indies continued fortifying their position.
Seventeen runs came in the first eight overs of the morning, a period during which Trent Boult and Tim Southee generated enough movement from the pitch to keep New Zealand interested. They beat the bat a number of times but the early breakthrough, that of nightwatchman Kemar Roach, took 9.1 overs to come.
Blackwood's partnership with Chanderpaul then helped West Indies take the game further away from New Zealand. Until he was dismissed, Chanderpaul maintained his usual stoical stance to frustrate the bowlers. His 33rd run took him past Kumar Sangakkara in the list of leading run-getters in Tests. Out of nowhere, though, he fell padding up in the same way to the same bowler, Sodhi, as in the previous Test.
Ramdin joined Blackwood and the increased urgency caught New Zealand somewhat offguard. Ramdin's three consecutive boundaries on the first three balls after lunch, off New Zealand's most threatening bowler, Boult, unravelled their intent. The partnership between the two batsmen inflated to 50 in 67 balls. By that time, the Netherlands had reasserted their supremacy over Australia in the football World Cup match and West Indies' lead was past 200 too.
Faced with a survival situation similar to what defending champions Spain were facing against Chile, New Zealand also had to adjust their batting order because Hamish Rutherford was not available due to an illness. McCullum promoted himself to open with Latham, but the move didn't work as the New Zealand captain was trapped lbw by Jerome Taylor in the seventh over. New Zealand were 9 for 1.
Both Taylor and Roach stuck to impeccable lines around off stump and with the ball darting around just enough, another wicket didn't seem too far. Taylor was particularly impressive, starting up with an opening burst of 7-3-8-1 while Roach complemented him with a spell of 6-3-9-0.
Only two boundaries came in the first 14 overs as New Zealand trudged to 19. Sulieman Benn and Shannon Gabriel kept up the pressure once the two frontline bowlers were off. Benn kept pegging around the off-stump line, while Gabriel's disconcerting bounce troubled Williamson more than once. Still, both Williamson and Latham made most of the infrequent loose deliveries. Two fours in the 27th over, bowled by Chris Gayle, took New Zealand past 50. While Spain withered away from Brazil, Williamson and Latham took the fight to another day.
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