Black Caps battling to save the second test

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 09:40 19/06/2014

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New Zealand's two batsmen of the moment carry the tourists' hopes of saving the second cricket test after another day of West Indies superiority at Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.

Opener Tom Latham (30 not out) and Kane Williamson (38 not out) laid some solid groundwork late on day three, but plenty more tough toil is required as New Zealand reached 73-1 in their second innings at stumps, still trailing by 166.

It took nearly two sessions for the Black Caps' bowlers to polish off the West Indies first innings for 460 as they built a big lead of 239 to remain in the box seat for a series-levelling win.

New Zealand's batsmen will continue the fight without their skipper Brendon McCullum, whose series struggles continued when promoted for the ill Hamish Rutherford to open for the first time since January, 2013 in South Africa.

Rutherford cannot bat higher than No 7, or until 164 minutes have elapsed in the innings, after he left the field for that period due to a stomach upset.

McCullum stepped up to the troublesome spot but couldn't improve on a lean series to date which included scores of seven, 17 and four in the wake of his epic Wellington triple-century against India in February. This time it was three off 17 balls before the West Indies' best bowler Jerome Taylor struck him full on the pad and umpire Ian Gould had no doubt.

The skipper ambitiously challenged the decision but replays didn't save him as they showed the ball cannoning into leg stump, with no inside edge.

Latham has been the batting revelation of the tour for New Zealand while Williamson remains his reliable self. The pair had already combined for two century partnerships, 165 at Kingston and 104 in the first innings of this match, and they played sensibly to last for 35 overs.

There was some early zip for the pacemen then some slow turn for West Indies spinners Sulieman Benn and Chris Gayle as the Queen's Park Oval pitch begins to wear but remains good for batting.

New Zealand need to bat at least another four sessions and well into the final day to make it safe, and go to Barbados for the third test still 1-0 up. Given their impressive batting rearguards in the home summer it's not an impossible task, particularly with no Sunil Narine in the home lineup and Taylor still looking the pick of the attack. It will need one of Latham or Williamson to contribute a big hundred.

The Black Caps hoped to snare the remaining five West Indies wickets in the first session but a belligerent half-century on debut from Jermaine Blackwood thwarted that.

West Indies added 150 to their overnight total as the familiar script continued; Tim Southee and Trent Boult bowling well without luck before the backup bowlers were assaulted.

Blackwood clouted two sixes, giving the West Indies 10 for their innings, in his 63 off 110 balls. He had luck, dropped at short leg on 11 by Latham off Mark Craig then successfully challenging an lbw decision for Williamson on 34 as the hosts twisted the knife.

The spinners struggled again, with Ish Sodhi snaring late wickets to end with 4-96 off 19.1 erratic overs, while Craig had 0-111 off 29 after his eight-wicket haul on debut.

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Sodhi trapped Shivnarine Chanderpaul (47) lbw offering no shot, as he did at Kingston, then nicked out Blackwood to finally end his resistance. All-rounder Jimmy Neesham snared his only wicket, captain Denesh Ramdin for a hard-hit 32, having gone for 4.5 runs per over.

Boult had the most impressive New Zealand figures, after battling a fever, ending with 3-75 off 30.

- Stuff

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