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Old habits return as Windies struggle in Wellington


Old habits return as Windies struggle in Wellington

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WELLINGTON – West Indies struck two vital blows but were still reeling after being bundled out cheaply, as old habits returned to haunt them on the opening day of the first Test against New Zealand here Friday.

Sent in on a grassy Basin Reserve track, the Caribbean side declined from 59 without loss to 134 all out, their lowest-ever total in seven Tests at the picturesque venue, as left-arm seamer Neil Wagner incinerated the innings with a brilliant career-best seven-wicket haul.

At the close, the Black Caps were 85 for two in reply, 49 runs behind heading into day two of the contest.

Opener Tom Latham struck 37, putting on 65 for the first wicket with Jeet Raval, who was unbeaten on a patient 29 at stumps.

West Indies, however, managed to stall some of the home side’s advantage when they prised out Latham and then captain Kane Williamson (1) cheaply.

Using the short ball effectively, Wagner claimed seven for 39 – the best figures on the opening day of a Test in New Zealand and the second-best figures by a New Zealander against West Indies.

He was well supported by new ball bowler, fellow left-armer Trent Boult, who picked up two for 36.

Left-handed opener Kieran Powell top-scored with 42.

West Indies were 75 for one at one stage but lost two wickets in the last seven deliveries before lunch, before losing their last seven wickets for 55 runs in 80 minutes on resumption, as the wheels came off the innings spectacularly.

Opener Kieran Powell top-scored with 42 and partner Kraigg Brathwaite got 24, but it all went downhill quickly for the visitors, after the pair put on 59 for the first wicket.

Powell, especially, looked in great touch early on as he punched eight fours in a 79-ball knock while Brathwaite struck one six – a top-edged hook off seamer Matt Henry – in an innings which consumed 70 balls.

Wagner got the breakthrough half-hour before lunch when he had the right-handed Brathwaite caught at short leg by Henry Nicholls, fending off a short ball.

The left-handed Powell was positive through the off-side, stroking Henry down the ground twice in succession in one over, as nearly all his boundaries came in sweetly-timed front-foot drives.

He was eyeing a well-deserved half-century when he perished five minutes before lunch, failing to keep down a short ball from Boult and fending a catch into the cordon where Raval at third slip dived in front of second, to pouch the low chance.

Shimron Hetmyer, also a left-hander, looked completely untroubled in hitting three lovely boundaries in 13 off 15 balls but somehow managed to get himself in a bad tangle to another short delivery from Wagner in the last over before lunch, and also fended a catch to Latham at second slip.

Any hopes of a revival after lunch were then scuppered as West Indies collapsed quickly, with only wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich with 18 and tail-ender Kemar Roach, left unbeaten on 14, reaching double figures.

Shai Hope, yet to score at lunch, perished to the second ball after the resumption without adding when he pulled at Wagner and brushed a leg-side catch behind, with a single run added to the score.

Seven balls later, Sunil Ambris endured an inglorious debut when he trod on his stumps off Wagner to the first ball he faced, to depart without scoring, leaving West Indies 80 for five.

Roston Chase turned Wagner around the corner to be caught at leg slip by Raval on 97 for six and captain Jason Holder was yorked first ball, to extend the Windies’ misery.

Dowrich was run out by a direct hit at the non-striker’s end in a mix up with Roach and Miguel Cummins was bowled for one playing down the wrong line, as West Indies limped to 105 for nine.

Roach and Shannon Gabriel (10) tried to rescue some pride by adding 29 for the last wicket – the second best stand of the innings – but it was but a temporary reprieve as Wagner fittingly wrapped up the innings as Gabriel fell to a another catch in the cordon.

Latham and Raval safely navigated the six overs before tea to reach nine without loss before digging in in the final session to frustrate West Indies.

Latham faced 87 balls and struck five fours while Raval has so far consumed 101 deliveries and counted three fours.

Holder got the breakthrough at the start of the final hour, having Latham caught at mid-wicket by Roach off a mis-timed pull and Roach picked up the prized wicket of Williamson cheaply when the right-hander chopped to Hope at gully. (CMC)