PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Opener Kraigg Brathwaite hit his maiden Test hundred and Darren Bravo his sixth, as West Indies dominated the second day of the second Test against New Zealand here yesterday.
At the close, the Caribbean side were 310 for five, in reply to New Zealand’s first innings of 221, a lead of 89 runs heading into Wednesday’s critical third day at Queen’s Park Oval.
Brathwaite fell late in the day for 129 while Bravo scored a characteristically shot-filled 109, his first century on Caribbean soil and appropriately coming before his home crowd.
The pair put on 182 for the second wicket, a partnership that deflated the Black Caps and forced them to toil without success throughout most of the evening sessions on another flat surface.
Brathwaite, who replaced the out-of-form Kieran Powell for this Test, faced 258 deliveries in an innings lasting six hours and 11 minutes, and which included 13 fours. Bravo, meanwhile, struck 11 fours and four sixes in a knock spanning 190 minutes and 155 balls.
Veteran left-hander Shiv Chanderpaul was there at the close on four, partnered by nightwatchman Kemar Roach, who was yet to score.
Left-arm seamer Trent Boult has been the best bowler with two for 30, but fast bowler Tim Southee and off-spinner Mark Craig failed to repeat their success of the opening Test in Kingston last week and proved ineffective.
Resuming the day tenuously placed at six for one, West Indies were in early trouble when nightwatchman Sulieman Benn missed a swish at Southee and was bowled for four in the fifth over of the morning.
Languishing at 16 for two, West Indies found solace in a 93-run, third wicket stand between Brathwaite and fellow Barbadian Kirk Edwards, who got 55.
The right-handed Edwards faced 64 balls and struck seven fours and three sixes, taking the attack to the New Zealand bowlers as defensive-minded Brathwaite provided the perfect foil.
His second scoring shot was a rasping drive through mid-off off Boult and he followed up in the next over, Craig’s first, with a six over long on.
A cover driven boundary by Edwards in Craig’s third over saw the bowler removed from the attack but his replacement, medium pacer Jimmy Neesham, also proved expensive.
Edwards twice cut him for aerial boundaries in his second over, the last four bringing up the 50 partnership. When Craig was brought back for a second spell, Edwards cleared mid on to move into the 40s before going straight for his second six, three balls later.
He raised his fifty in style, depositing Craig on the roof of the stadium at wide long on, in the bowler’s next over.
Edwards was growing in confidence when he edged the third delivery of leg spinner Ish Sodhi’s first over of the morning, for wicketkeeper BJ Watling to take a smart catch, ten minutes before lunch.
Brathwaite had to wait nearly an hour for his first boundary, a glance to fine leg off Southee, but blossomed in the second hour, taking the attack to Craig with a couple of streaky boundaries over wide mid-on, in a rare show of aggression.
He reached lunch on 48, with Bravo on 10, and continued in the same mould afterward, defying an hour-long break for rain, to keep West Indies on top.
The 21-year-old reached a well-deserved half-century with a square drive for four off Southee in the second over after lunch, but it was Bravo who lit up the Oval.
He collected two boundaries in one over off Southee following the break for rain, and when Craig was re-introduced, he lifted him over mid-off for four and punched him to the leg-side boundary in the same over, to move into the 40s.
He raised his ninth Test half-century with another leg-side boundary off Neesham.
Unbeaten on 58 at tea, Bravo upped the ante on resumption. He cleared long on with Sodhi in the third over after the break for his first six, before slapping the same bowler to the cover boundary a few balls later.
He maintained his assault on the leg-spinner in the bowler’s next over with two sixes – the first flying over long on and the second clearing mid-wicket, as he romped into the 80s.
Brathwaite, on 85 at tea, struck Southee for two boundaries in the fourth over on resumption to speed into the 90s and eventually reached three figures with a single past slip.
Bravo, meanwhile, entered the 90s with an extra cover drive for four off Neesham, worked slow bowler Kane Williamson fine for four in the next over to cruise to 99 before stealing a single to cover three balls later, to reach his landmark.
He celebrated by thumping Williamson straight for his fourth six but holed out in the deep to Craig in the bowler’s next over, trying to go over the ropes again.
With the session extended, Brathwaite plodded on in fading light before finally succumbing in the third over before the close, tamely tapping a catch back to Boult.