HAMILTON, New Zealand, CMC – West Indies’ batting crumbled meekly on day two of the second Test against New Zealand here yesterday, leaving the Caribbean side needing a Herculean effort to stay alive in the contesst at Seddon Park.
Replying to the hosts’ 373, the Windies started badly and never really recovered, finishing the day on 215 for eight in their first innings – still 158 runs adrift of the lead.
Not for the first time in recent history, opener Kraigg Brathwaite was the only shining light, leading by example in his first match as skipper with a top-score of 66.
Wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich made a dashing 35, Shimron Hetmyer got 28 while debutant Raymon Reifer was propped up the innings deep in the final session with an unbeaten 22.
But opener Kieran Powell failed to score, Shai Hope and Roston Chase were left still looking for a significant score in the series while rookie Sunil Ambris trod on his stumps for the second time in three innings, to continue his bizarre start to his Test career.
New Zealand’s bowlers were steady without ever being spectacular, with the seam quartet of Tim Southee (2-34), Colin de Grandhomme (2-40), Trent Boult (2-67) and Neil Wagner (2-73) each picking up two wickets.
West Indies had earlier endured frustration as New Zealand converted their overnight 286 for seven into a competitive first innings.
They did well to remove the overnight pair of Tom Blundell (28) and Neil Wagner (1) cheaply for the addition of just 26 runs but were then held up by a last-wicket stand of 61 between Boult and Southee.
Boult played with gay abandon in a 27-ball knock that included five fours and two sixes and Southee joined with a four and a pair of sixes, in an entertaining 39-ball innings.
Speedster Shannon Gabriel finished with four 119 and Roach, three for 58, while Miguel Cummins ended with two for 57.
Left with a tricky period to navigate, the Windies’ misery increased when Powell sparred at the sixth ball of the innings from Southee and was caught at the wicket with five runs on the board.
On 24 for one at lunch, West Indies benefitted from two small partnerships afterwards, Brathwaite adding 41 for the second wicket with Hetmyer and a further 44 for the third wicket with Hope who made 15.
Only 55 minutes play were possible in the second session because of rain, in which time Hetmyer showed flashes of his usual aggression before playing too early at one from Boult and watching as the left-armer pulled off a brilliant one-handed return catch diving to his left.
The 20-year-old left-hander struck four fours and a six – a top-edged hook to fine leg off Boult.
When the rains arrived, the Windies were 87 for two with Brathwaite and Hope together, and when they returned 20 minutes after the scheduled tea interval, the slump ensued.
Hope, unbeaten on 14 at the rain break, added just one before falling 10 minutes following the resumption, edging Southee to Ross Taylor at first slip.
It all then went downhill quickly for West Indies as five wickets tumbled for 70 runs.
Chase was bowled for 12 driving down the wrong line at de Grandhomme and Ambris (2), in only his second Test, astonishingly stepped on his wicket again attempting to turn a delivery into the on-side off the back foot.
Brathwaite, dropped on 14 by Tom Latham off Boult, struck nine fours and a six in 116 balls at the crease before finally succumbing to a brilliant catch at short cover by Southee, driving uppishingly at de Grandhomme.
Tottering on 135 for six, Dowrich arrived to stroke seven fours in an up tempo 45-ball innings, adding 34 with Reifer. He eventually paid for his aggression, top-edging a pull to be caught and bowled by Wagner.
Reifer anchored the lower order, putting on 35 with Roach (17) before seeing out the day in partnership with Cummins (10 not out).