WELLINGTON: New Zealand was in touching distance of an innings win and series sweep over the West Indies on Sunday when bad light stopped play on the third day of the second cricket test.
The West Indies were 244-6 in their second innings at stumps drawn early because of the light still trailing New Zealand by 85 runs after being forced to follow on 329 behind.
West Indies captain Jason Holder was 60 not out and involved in an unbroken seventh-wicket stand with Joshua da Silva (25) which was worth 74 by stumps and frustrated New Zealand’s push to victory.
The umpires offered the batsmen the light around 5.30pm local time as dark clouds gathered over the Basin Reserve and with no improvement in conditions, players were unable to return. Earlier, opener John Campbell reached his highest test score of 68, his second half century, in an 89-run third-wicket partnership which provided a further obstacle to New Zealand’s push for victory.
The West Indies’ top order has shown little fortitude in the series so far and the tourists are yet to reach 250 in four innings. They were dismissed for 138 and 247 in reply to New Zealand’s 519-7 in the first test which they lost by an innings and 134 runs.
Campbell and Holder gave the tourists’ innings more backbone on Sunday, forcing New Zealand to return on the fourth day to claim a win which will lift them above England into third place in the World Test Championship. New Zealand may also be poised to claim the No. 1 test ranking for the first time in its history.
The key in the series so far has been the relentlessness of New Zealand’s four-pronged seam attack. Newcomer Kyle Jamieson, with his height and pace, has added a new dimension to the attack which revolves around Tim Southee, Trent Boult and the grafter Neil Wagner.
Jamieson took 5-34 in the West Indies first innings on Saturday, his second five-wicket bag in only his fourth test.
Southee wrapped up the innings after the West Indies resumed at 124-8 on Sunday, taking both wickets to finish with 5-32 as the tourists managed 131. That gave him 294 test wickets, leaving him poised to become the third New Zealander after Richard Hadlee and Daniel Vettori to take 300 wickets in tests.
Things were less easy in the second innings. The ball still swung in overcast conditions at the Basin Reserve but the West Indies were more resilient.
“I think these two (Holder and da Silva) have batted well,” Southee said. “They’ve played their shots as well as playing and missing a few times but they’ve hung in there.