Black Caps take stranglehold on Windies test
Some late batting wobbles clouded another memorable day for New Zealand's cricketers, who are poised to break an 18-month overseas win drought in the first test against West Indies at Kingston.
The Black Caps ended day three on 14-2 in their second innings, a lead of 260 after captain Brendon McCullum didn't enforce the follow on to give his bowlers a rest and the chance to bowl last with a wearing Sabina Park pitch at its worst.
Pace spearhead Tim Southee was the star of New Zealand's energetic bowling effort, with figures of 16.2-9-19-4 while debut off-spinner Mark Craig proved his worth with a 24-over haul of 4-91, as they dismissed West Indies for 262.
McCullum's decision made sense, but meant his top order had a tricky period before stumps and handed a flagging home side a chance to seize some momentum.
Via a fired-up pace duo Jerome Taylor and Kemar Roach they did exactly that as the struggling Peter Fulton and first innings centurymaker Kane Williamson departed inside the first eight overs.
Fulton completed a horror test when he chased a wide Jerome Taylor outswinger, second ball. Painful as it is to see a player so bereft of confidence, the time has come for coach Mike Hesson to make the tough call for the second test at Port-of-Spain, with Hamish Rutherford waiting on the sidelines.
Williamson (2) was dismissed in similar fashion to the first innings, offering no shot and watching his off stump rocked back. Roach was the beneficiary this time.
Night watchman Ish Sodhi survived a painful blow to the right hand and an edge just in front of the cordon to battle into day four, alongside opener Tom Latham.
New Zealand will want to set West Indies at least 400 and give themselves at least four sessions to dismiss the hosts, whose batsmen largely showed little appetite for a test cricket fight. The exception, again, was Shivnarine Chanderpaul who was stranded 84 not out in their first innings.
The last time New Zealand won an offshore test was in November 2012, in Sri Lanka, Ross Taylor's final test as skipper, and this is easily their best chance since to transfer their home form to warmer climes.
Having posted 508-7 declared, the New Zealand batsmen did their bit, now it was up to the bowlers to toil hard as West Indies resumed on 19-0 and Chris Gayle ready to rock in his 100th test on his home ground.
Gayle (64) was one of Southee's four victims as the centenary party fell flat. Southee and Craig each struck twice in the one over to spark a West Indies collapse of 5-44 in 13.3 overs, a familiar sight from their December tour of New Zealand.
The dry pitch remained docile for the quicks, but offered increasing turn and bounce for the spinners. Southee added some variation when he began to get reverse swing, which saw him nick out Gayle with a gem then remove Marlon Samuels two balls later.
Then, as captain Denesh Ramdin and Chanderpaul built a pesky stand of 72 for the sixth wicket, Southee produced a fast legspinner that fooled Ramdin (39) who looped a leg side catch to gloveman BJ Watling.
Craig helped mop up the tail with an accurate performance where he flighted the ball and enticed the false stroke in helpful conditions. He outshone fellow spinner Sodhi who snared an early wicket but was too loose.
Otago offspinner Craig got the ball rolling in his sixth over in test cricket, after Gayle and Kieran Powell added 60 for the first wicket. Powell (28), who was dropped on eight by Fulton at slip, defended down the wrong line and Craig's lbw appeal was successful. Two balls later Kirk Edwards prodded at one that turned slightly, and Taylor held a good diving catch at slip.
McCullum had spinners Craig and Sodhi bowling in tandem, and Sodhi struck immediately when Darren Bravo (0) offered a return catch to make it three wickets in 11 balls.
Then it was over to Southee, who was excellent early and had Gayle in all sorts of strife in a probing opening spell, then got it to reverse sharply.
New Zealand's senior paceman was adamant he'd removed Gayle caught behind on nine but New Zealand's challenge was ruled out by television umpire Ian Gould.
He ensured the celebrations would be muted when he angled one across Gayle and he touched an edge behind, ending a 125-ball knock including 11 fours. Then Samuels had no idea as Southee got a full ball to reverse and he was trapped in front. The slide was on, and even Chanderpaul couldn't rescue the hosts on his own.