Weather Main Concern for NZ

After another day of dominance by New Zealand on the third day of the second test against the West Indies, it seems that only the forecast showers on the last two days can stand in the way of New Zealand extending their series lead to 2-0.

After resuming the day with the score at 335-7, the West Indies had a close to perfect start as Nathan Astle, who had played brilliantly yesterday, was out caught behind off the bowling of Daren Powell without adding to his overnight score of 65. A solid partnership followed between James Franklin and Kyle Mills, the two putting on 37 in an hour of batting in the morning session. The partnership, a frustrating one for the visitors, was brought to an end when Mills was caught behind by wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin off the bowling of Fidel Edwards, who with that took his wicket tally to four and then to five next ball as Chris Martin was bowled first ball. Edwards bowled tremendously and fully deserved his figures of 5-65. Those wickets brought the innings to a close, the score finishing at 372 all out with a lead of 180 for New Zealand.

As happened in both innings of the first test at Eden Park, the West Indian openers Chris Gayle and Daren Ganga put on a promising opening stand. This time they put on 54 in just 13 overs before Ganga fell to the bowling of Martin, the third batsman to be out caught behind of the four wickets to fall so far. From there it was all downhill for the West Indies as Runako Morton was caught by Stephen Fleming at slip off Franklin for seven, and the sadly out of form Brian Lara was out to Nathan Astle for just one run, caught square of the wicket by Hamish Marshall. Lara’s series average to date is less than 2 runs per innings.

Chris Gayle though batted on as partners fell around him, compiling an uncharacteristically slow 68 from 145 balls. He hit ten fours though and played a very impressive and important innings. But just before play came to a premature end due to the weather, the hugely important wicket fell when a perfect arm ball from Daniel Vettori hit Gayle right in front. Although Shivnarine Chanderpaul has been in there for almost an hour for his 13 and the hugely talented Dwayne Bravo came in at the fall of the wicket, it was the loss of Gayle that seemed to decide that the West Indies had almost lost all chance of victory in the Wellington test. They seem to have got into the habit of suffering awful middle order collapses, with the second innings disaster in Auckland after a century opening stand and what is starting to look like a repeat here.

Five runs after the wicket of Gayle, the umpires offered the light to the West Indies batsmen and they gratefully accepted, and when the light failed to improve and the rain came down the chance of play in the rest of the day disappeared and stumps were drawn. West Indies finished at 118-4, still requiring another 62 runs to make New Zealand bat again.

It looks an excellent situation for the New Zealanders, who are looking for their fifth test win in a row. But the day did not go without worries. The first is the weather, which looks decidedly dodgy for the next two days. They need enough time to take six wickets and probably chase a small target in their second innings. The other worry for New Zealand was Stephen Fleming, who when putting down a catch at slip of the bowling of Martin did some damage to his left wrist and was taken to hospital for x-rays. However, those x-rays revealed no major damage and he has been cleared to play.

The West Indies, who lost the ODIs 4-1, are very low on confidence and are likely looking at yet another defeat. Although it is far from impossible to win from their position, they just give the impression that they are a beaten team, while New Zealand on the other hand are extremely high on confidence. They may opt to not even try to set a target to bowl at, and instead bat for a draw and hope for some assistance from the Wellington weather.

West Indies 192
Runako Morton 63, Chris Gayle 30
James Franklin 5-53, Kyle Mills 3-53

New Zealand 372
Stephen Fleming 97, Peter Fulton 75
Fidel Edwards 5-65, Daren Powell 4-83

West Indies 118-4
Chris Gayle 68, Daren Ganga 23
Daniel Vettori 1-14, Chris Martin 1-28

New Zealand lead by 62 runs.

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