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The Report by Alagappan Muthu
June 29, 2014
New Zealand 293 and 331 for 7 (Williamson 161*, Roach 4-55) lead West Indies 317 by 307 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Kane Williamson was at his meticulous best. His seventh Test century took his series tally past 400 and guided New Zealand into a commanding position. The visitors stretched their lead to 307 and, with the fourth-day Kensington Oval pitch showing signs of variable bounce, West Indies' hopes would have started to dwindle. A sharp downpour either side of tea forced play to end early and was the only menace to New Zealand's hopes of a series win.
Memories of Dunedin might tempt New Zealand to declare overnight considering weather is likely to intervene on the final day as well, with scattered showers predicted.
The West Indies bowlers struggled to pose much threat with the old ball. Turn was on offer but it was slow. Their desperation was best depicted when the new ball was taken and Jerome Taylor was seen talking to it, as if cajoling it would fetch him his first wicket of the match. His plea did work, but the benefactor was Kemar Roach who claimed his 100th Test wicket by dismissing BJ Watling. However, it was the batsman at the other end who sapped them of their energy.
Williamson had to defuse a tricky situation last evening and those skills were needed once again. He was the common denominator in all four of New Zealand's half-century partnerships. Soft hands were a feature of his play as he buckled down; decisive footwork got him into positions that allowed him to tackle extra turn or low bounce. He did not go chasing for runs. They came when the bowlers fed his strengths - behind square on the off side and through midwicket - to contribute to 95 of his 161.
He had begun with two fours off his first seven balls before settling into his designated role of sheet anchor. As familiar as that has become for New Zealand, it doesn't happen often during the second innings. In his last ten second-inning knocks, Williamson had four fifties but the remainder had all been single figures. However, his ability to focus on the next ball helped both him and his side to gain a solid foothold into securing the series. He also joined Martin Crowe at the top of the list of centuries made by New Zealand batsmen by the age of 24.
West Indies had bet on the pitch misbehaving as well and utilised spin for much of the morning session. However, Jimmy Neesham did not let them settle. His second half-century of the match was characterised by confident footwork and clean hits, especially down the ground. Neesham's fluency melded with Williamson's composure and their 91-run stand completely offset the loss of an early wicket.
Brendon McCullum had not looked authoritative and was trapped leg before by an in-dipper from Roach. But aside from that West Indies lacked intensity for much of the morning session. Shane Shillingford, stripped of his doosra, traveled at 4.5 per over. Sulieman Benn managed only one maiden out of 26 overs. Their woes were compounded when Darren Bravo sustained a nasty blow to his hand at forward short leg, when Williamson went for a pull, and was not seen since.
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