BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Rookie opener Kraigg Brathwaite struck a half-century to lead a forthright West Indies reply but rain wrecked the second day of the decisive third Test here yesterday, robbing the hosts of precious time in their quest for victory and a series win.
The right-hander top scored with 68, his fifth Test half-century, as West Indies cantered to 169 for two, 18 minutes after lunch. However, persistent rain then forced players from the field, and continued unabated for the duration of the post-lunch session.
With dark clouds hovering and the inclement weather showing no signs of easing, match officials took the decision at 4:17 pm to abandon play.
It proved a disappointing end to a day’s play that West Indies seemed set to dominate
Brathwaite was at the heart of the Windies’ excellent progress, anchoring two partnerships in the morning session to deny the Black Caps the wickets they desperately needed.
The 21-year-old, in only his 12th Test, put on 79 for the first wicket with Chris Gayle who hammered 42, before adding a further 74 for the second wicket with Kirk Edwards who was unbeaten on 42 when the rains arrived.
Stylish left-hander Darren Bravo was unbeaten on eight and looking ominous, after striking two fours. Resuming the day on 32 without loss, West Indies gathered runs quickly largely through the left-handed Gayle, who struck six fours and a six in an innings lasting 88 minutes and 53 balls.
Continuing from his overnight 18, he smashed seamer Tim Southee down the ground for four in the third over of the morning before repeating the stroke in the bowler’s next over, and following up next ball with a pull to the mid-wicket boundary.
Southee was removed from the attack for a couple of overs but when he returned, he was greeted by Brathwaite with consecutive leg-side boundaries in his opening over.
Gayle looked set for a half-century when he skied off-spinner Mark Craig to Hamish Rutherford at long on, to depart as the hour mark in the first session approached.
Brathwaite then combined with Edwards in an entertaining stand, as West Indies dominated the second hour’s play. Overall, Brathwaite faced 116 balls in just under 2-1/2 hours at the crease and counted 10 fours while Edwards has faced 64 balls and hit four fours and a six.
Edwards was particularly harsh on Craig, driving him to the cover boundary and then clearing the ropes at long off, in the bowler’s seventh over.
Brathwaite, meanwhile, reached his 50 with his second four of left-arm seamer Trent Boult’s ninth over, and then showed unusual aggression in punching Craig through cover for four and then pulling him behind square for another, half-hour before lunch.
With a second successive century beckoning, Brathwaite fell to a loose stroke, caught at cover by Southee ten minutes before lunch, driving uppishly at left-arm pacer Neil Wagner.Well placed on 159 for two at the interval, West Indies immediately found their rhythm afterward when Bravo flicked Craig to the square boundary and then cut him to the ropes at point, to collect consecutive boundaries off the first balls of the third over of the new session.
Only 14 more balls were possible, however, as the dark clouds which threatened finally made their presence felt.
NEW ZEALAND 1st Innings 293
WEST INDIES 1st Innings
(overnight 32 without loss)
C Gayle c Rutherford b Craig 42
K Brathwaite c Southee b Wagner 68
K Edwards not out 42
D Bravo not out 8
Extras (b1, lb2, w5, nb1) 9
TOTAL (2 wkts, 42.2 overs) 169
To bat: S Chanderpaul, *+D Ramdin, S Benn, J Taylor, S Shillingford, J Holder, K Roach.
Fall of wickets: 1-79 (Gayle), 2-153 (Brathwaite)
Bowling: Boult 10-3-38-0 (w1, nb1), Southee 10-2-43-0, Craig 13-2-63-1, Wagner 7.2-3-11-1 (w1), Williamson 2-0-11-0 (w1).
Position: West Indies trail by 124 runs with eight wickets intact.
Toss: New Zealand.
Umpires: Ian Gould, Richard Illingworth; TV – Rod Tucker.
N.B – There was no play after 1:03 pm because of rain.