West Indies batsman Shimron Hetmyer pulling during his 66. (GP)
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WELLINGTON – Shimron Hetmyer has described Kraigg Brathwaite as the perfect partner to bat with.
He’s the solid anchor, the West Indies rookie left-hander reasoned yesterday after he combined with vice-captain Brathwaite to stave off New Zealand on the third day of the first Test at the Basin Reserve.
Half-centuries from Brathwaite and Hetmyer underlined a strong West Indies effort, but they faced a massive task in saving the match after wicketkeeper Tom Blundell’s hundred on debut left the Black Caps in a near impregnable position.
At stumps, the Caribbean side were 214 for two in their second innings but still some 172 runs adrift of avoiding an innings defeat.
Brathwaite was unbeaten on 79 while 20-year-old Hetmyer, in his fourth Test, struck a bold 66 to pick up his maiden Test half-century.
“I think he (Brathwaite) is, in a sense, one of the most important batsmen as of now,” Hetmyer stressed.
“He’s like an anchor for us . . . and it gives us a drive to know when you go out there [to bat], there’s Kraigg there as well. You can be free at your end [to play normally].
“Like me, for instance, [I can keep] playing my shots with him [at the other end].”
He continued: “I am really comfortable batting with Kraigg because he keeps telling me just be myself and just express myself and enjoy it as much as you can.”
Hetmyer caught the attention of many with his audacious innings, smashing eight fours and two sixes off just 89 deliveries, in his fourth Test and first in seven months.
He was positive from the outset, gathering boundaries on both sides of the square and his two sixes – a clean blow over long-on off the left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner and a majestic straight hit off left-arm pacer Trent Boult – left tongues wagging.
Hetmyer said he had just approached the innings as he normally would any other, looking to punish loose deliveries.
“To me, when I’m batting, it doesn’t seem as if I score that fast. I just bat until I see a bad ball presented, or what I think is a bad ball and I just put it away,” he said.
“Before I got here [to New Zealand], I had some good scores back home in the Caribbean so I said to myself I’d just go back to what I’d been doing well and I guess it worked.”
Seamer Matt Henry claimed both wickets to end with two for 33.
Blundell had earlier converted his overnight unbeaten 57 into 107 not out, becoming the first New Zealand wicketkeeper to score a hundred on debut.
The right-hander faced 180 balls and struck 13 fours and a six all told as the Black Caps, resuming on 447 for nine, added a further 73 before declaring on 520 for nine, 20 minutes before lunch.
Blundell extended his overnight last-wicket stand with Trent Boult to 78, further frustrating West Indies who rang the changes without success.
Behind by 386 runs and left with four overs to navigate before lunch, Brathwaite and Kieran Powell, who made 40, steered the visitors to nine without loss before pushing on afterwards to add 72 – their second half-century stand of the match.
Brathwaite dug in for the long haul and has so far faced 186 balls and struck seven fours and a six, while the left-handed Powell stroked five fours and two sixes in a breezy 55-ball innings.
Hetmyer, given out caught behind on seven hooking at Henry 20 minutes before tea, but reprieved by the decision review system, grabbed the spotlight in an attractive innings with more than its share of audacious shots. (CMC/HG)