West Indies show fight with Brathwaite, Hetmyer fifties

Sun, Dec 3, '17


Windies vs NZ

New Zealand hurtled to a profoundly commanding position in the first seven sessions of the Wellington Test, but the opposition began to resist on the third day. West Indies were still a long way back - 172 in arrears with two second-innings wickets already spent. But thanks to Kraigg Brathwaite's fortitude, a spark from Kieran Powell, and a little flash from Shimron Hetmyer, their hopes of making something out of this match are not yet extinguished. Brathwaite remained at the crease on 79, with Shai Hope for company.

But perhaps this was always going to be a batting day - the Basin Reserve pitch tends to flatten dramatically as matches wear on. In the morning, Tom Blundell had progressed from an overnight 57 not out to triple figures, becoming the first wicketkeeper-batsman to make a debut Test century since Matt Prior in 2007.

What was remarkable was that he scored 52 of his eventual 107 not out in the company of Trent Boult - the pair putting on an unbeaten stand of 78 for the last wicket. Soon after Blundell reached his century, New Zealand declared on 520 for 9, taking a 386-run advantage into the second innings.

Few might have expected West Indies to claim momentum as dramatically as they did after lunch, however. If one aspect of play epitomised the vigour they brought to those sessions, it was their bristling confidence when facing their tormentor from the first dig: Neil Wagner. On day one, Wagner had collected 7 for 39 in 14 overs, as batsmen almost raced each other back to the pavilion.