Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson leave West Indies staring at massive deficit
by SportsDiction – 12, December, 2020
West Indies 124 for 8 (Blackwood 69, Jamieson 5-34, Southee 3-29) trail
New Zealand 460 (Nicholls 174, Wagner 66*, Gabriel 3-93, Joseph 3-109) by 336 runs
Wait until both teams have bowled before you judge a pitch. In this case, the old adage wasn’t quite true, because it was evident right from the start of this Test match that this Basin Reserve track had everything a fast bowler could ask for: pace, bounce, seam movement. But it took until New Zealand bowled to show just how difficult batting on it could be, with their fast bowlers summoning up two things their West Indies counterparts had failed to find through 114 overs of toil: swing; and most importantly, relentless, probing accuracy.
With Henry Nicholls extending his overnight century to a career-best 174, and Neil Wagner celebrating his 50th Test with a riotous maiden half-century, New Zealand clattered 166 runs in the first 30 overs of day two to post a daunting 460. Then Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson bagged the spoils of a brilliant, collective effort with the ball as West Indies stumbled to 124 for 8 by stumps.
Southee began the rout with the new ball, before Jamieson came on as second change, picked up his second five-for in just his fourth Test match, and ended the day with a Test bowling average of 13.77.
Southee searched for rhythm through his first over, spraying balls down the leg side or too wide of off, and Kraigg Brathwaite only had to play at one of his six balls. That over was a most misleading trailer to Southee and Trent Boult’s new-ball masterclass. Ball after ball, the batsmen had to calculate whether to go forward or back, whether the ball would swing or go with its initial angle, and whether to play or leave, and given the lack of time in which to come up with a coherent response, they usually ended up crease-bound and feeling hesitantly for the ball.
After Brathwaite nicked a Southee outswinger to first slip in the third over, John Campbell and Darren Bravo spent 8.3 agonising overs at the crease before Bravo spooned a return catch to Southee. In between, Southee left Campbell sprawled on the floor after smacking him in the groin with a ball that jagged into him with extra lift off the pitch
Southee and Boult then gave way to Wagner and Jamieson, and there was no let-off in intensity. Jamieson’s first over took forever to finish, but only because of how good it was. Campbell drove at one slanting away from him and edged to second slip, before Jamieson bowled a stunned Roston Chase with the perfect first-ball yorker.
The next two balls produced massive lbw shouts. The first was a yorker, the other a low full-toss, both swinging into Jermaine Blackwood and possibly down the leg side. New Zealand burned a review with the first one, thrilled by the prospect of a hat-trick, and nearly burned another with the second, with ball-tracking returning an umpire’s call verdict. At 29 for 4, though, who would blame New Zealand for their excitement?
Then, for the next 26.2 overs, Shamarh Brooks and Blackwood offered the only real spell of resistance of West Indies’ innings. Blackwood, as always, didn’t shy away from driving on the up, and his edge-of-the-seat existence was complemented by Brooks’ watchful, soft-hands approach. With the ball having lost its shine, it felt like the pitch was now at its best to bat on, but there was no drop in pressure even as Blackwood drove and slashed his way to a 70-ball half-century to follow his hundred in the first Test. Wagner, not among the wickets, played a key role in ensuring that the partnership run rate didn’t get out of control, setting strong leg-side fields and examining the batsmen’s techniques with a mix of skiddy and steeply rising short balls.
The breakthrough came via Jamieson, who delivered an in-ducker off the seam to bowl Brooks while he shouldered arms. Having broken through, New Zealand pinned West Indies to the mat. Hard hands ended Blackwood’s innings as Southee got one to straighten and climb at the shoulder of his defensive bat, before Jason Holder miscued a pull to mid-on off Jamieson, who completed his five-for in the same over by nicking off Alzarri Joseph.