'Trinidad hundred gave me confidence' - Brathwaite
West Indies opener Kraigg Brathwaite has said his match-winning century in Trinidad had given him self-belief, and that it was the catalyst for his current vein of good form.
On a rain-interrupted day in Barbados, where only 33.2 overs of play were possible, Brathwaite scored a resolute fifty to lift the hosts from 32 for 0 to 169 for 2 and in the process he became the first West Indies player to collect 200 runs in the series, despite not playing the first Test in Kingston.
"I am trying to build on my foundation," Brathwaite said. "The hundred in Trinidad gave me a lot of confidence and I'm looking to move forward and cement a spot in the team at the top of the order. I try to give 100% every time.
"I told myself to be positive and look to play my strokes. It is a matter of control and looking to hit the bad ball. I won't say I have become more attacking, it's just that I'm more confident. However, I don't want to get too comfortable and lose focus on my goal, which is to make big scores for the West Indies."
Brathwaite, who had not hit a Test hundred before his effort at Queen's Park Oval, was composed throughout his 116-ball stay at the crease on Friday and frustrated the New Zealand bowlers with a number of well-timed drives that raced to the boundary. He was quick to credit his opening partner Chris Gayle for laying the groundwork of their 79-run stand, which took West Indies to a promising position.
"Batting with Chris was good for me. He was batting quite well and going after the bowling so I decided to rotate the strike and have a close look at things from the other end. In the end, I got a few boundaries and got to my fifty quite quickly and managed to put the team in a good position and we will try to the win the game now.
"The ball was not swinging much and there was not much pace in the pitch so with that in mind it was okay to hit the ball square, once you covered it. As an opener you will always get balls to score off."
Brathwaite was well set on 68 and looked to be heading towards a second consecutive Test hundred when he chased after a wide delivery from Neil Wagner and hit it straight to Tim Southee at short cover. Wagner felt Brathwaite's wicket was crucial in giving New Zealand a glimpse of getting back into the contest.
"It was quite good to break the partnership, and obviously, to squeeze the next batters coming in," Wagner said. "They got away a bit this morning and batted quite well, so it wasn't really an ideal start for us. We just need to focus on what we can do tomorrow and come in and change.
"Obviously, the rain coming in is disappointing. We felt just before lunch and after lunch, we were putting a bit of pressure. If we had got another one or two wickets, we would have been in with a bit of a chance. It's a bit disappointing, but we can't control the weather."
Wagner, who sat out the first two Tests, said there was hardly anything on offer for the bowlers from the Kensington Oval pitch, but remained optimistic of his team's chances owing to West Indies' past batting collapses.
"There's not a lot of assistance in the pitch. I think it's one of those grounds where a lot of boundaries get scored. It's a quick outfield with small boundaries, so it can get a little away from you. There is a lot of value for shots. Our job is to just try and eliminate that and build a bit of pressure. As soon as we can do that, we can try to get a couple of quick wickets.
"West Indies feed on the bowling like today and are confident in themselves. But we also know that they are the kind of team that crumble when they lose a couple of quick wickets, so we're always hopeful of that. So for us, it's just a matter of being patient and executing our plans for a longer period of time."