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NZ still 166 runs adrift


Garth Wattley

NZ still 166 runs adrift

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TRAILING BY 239 runs on first innings, the New Zealand batsmen trimmed their deficit down to 166 by the end of yesterday’s third day of this second cricket Test against the West Indies at the Queen’s Park Oval.
Opener Tom Latham (30) and Kane Williamson (38) carefully steered their side through 34 overs to close another warm day on 73 for one.
Their bowlers removed the last three West Indies wickets for four runs to curtail the home team’s lead that had threatened to reach 300.
It was a hard day for the bowlers, the West Indies attack toiling without success after Jerome Taylor removed New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum in the seventh over.
McCullum, opening in place of the unwell Hamish Rutherford, was given out lbw after being struck on the full.
He challenged umpire Ian Gould’s decision without success.
But the Windies pacers were getting little from the surface, and captain Denesh Ramdin ended the day with the all-spin, pairing Sulieman Benn (13-5-17-0) and Chris Gayle (7-2-19-0).
Their New Zealand counterparts had toiled similarly and had to contend with a confident debutant determined to make a good first impression.
Jermaine Blackwood, 22, was given his Test cap on the first day by Brian Lara. But he had to wait for the third morning before getting his first knock at the highest level. He responded by scoring 63.
It was not a chanceless innings, Blackwood being put down by Latham off slow bowler Mark Craig, and he successfully challenged the umpire’s decision for lbw to Williamson when on 35.
Picked after a steady regional season and recent performances against the Bangladesh ‘A’ team where he made centuries and not just cameo fifties, Blackwood showed no lack of confidence against Test match bowling.
“I played each ball on its merit and if the ball was there to be hit, I hit it,” he explained later.
That attitude was clear from the moment he dispatched seamer Trent Boult (30-6-75-3) back overhead for six.
The Jamaican’s other boundaries in a 146-minute effort that contained six fours and two sixes were executed with similar confidence, none moreso than the bullet off-drive off Boult which brought up the 200 lead after lunch.
Blackwood at the time was in partnership with his captain Denesh Ramdin (32, four fours) in an eighth-wicket stand that eventually realised 76. A Blackwood prod at an Ish Sodhi leg-spinner that was edged to wicketkeeper BJ Watling eventually ended the stand.

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