Tail-end action gives Black Caps slim hope

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 10:16 20/06/2014
Kemar Roach
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West Indies pace bowler Kemar Roach clebrates the prize wicket of NZ batsman Kane Williamson.

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The Port-of-Spain forecast predicts scattered thunderstorms, a final ray of hope for the battered Black Caps after a late rear-guard took the second cricket test against West Indies into a fifth day.

Thanks to some typical defiance from BJ Watling, and support from Mark Craig, New Zealand reached 257-8 at stumps on day four to lead by 18.

Watling batted four-and-a-half hours for an unbeaten 38, and with Craig (29 not out) added 45 for the ninth wicket when defeat inside four days looked almost certain.

West Indies remain hot favourites to level the series 1-1 with one to play, and deservedly so as they outplayed the Black Caps for yet another day.

The grip only loosened in the final 90 minutes as skipper Denesh Ramdin spread the field instead of going for the kill, the bowlers wilted in the 35degC heat and Watling showed his batting colleagues how it was done.

Craig rode his luck, dropped in close early in his innings, but he can bat and showed some fight after a disappointing bowling stint.

Still, the tourists will be hugely fortunate if rain saves them, the batting unit having produced two sub-standard innings in good conditions.

Having ground West Indies into the Kingston dirt with a 500-plus first innings which set up the first test, they were shown by the home side how it was done with the bat.

Today's batting wasn't as dire as the first innings, where New Zealand collapsed to the tune of 7-60, but no one kicked on to a big score and wickets fell regularly.

Pacemen Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor snared five wickets between them while the towering Sulieman Benn, West Indies' only specialist spinner, had a big day with figures of 49-19-62-2.

A promising stand between New Zealand's two form players of the test series, Tom Latham and Kane Williamson, raised hopes of a fightback. The pair added 75 off 43 overs, intent on survival and frustrating the home bowlers.

But the West Indies were up for this scrap and two moments of brilliance from Benn provided the hammer blows to the tourists.

The Queen's Park Oval pitch was dry and beginning to crumble, ideal for the two-spin New Zealand attack if their batsmen had come through with a big first innings total.

Benn got one to explode from the rough at Latham who had little chance, and gloved to the close-in catcher, ending his three hour, 15 minute stay for 36.

Then there was a freakish catch to remove Jimmy Neesham and end a disappointing test for one of the stars of the Kingston victory. On seven, Neesham charged and drove firmly, Benn stuck out a long right arm and plucked a brilliant grab.

Williamson (52) was the big wicket and West Indies celebrated like they'd won the test when Roach enticed him to nibble at one just wide of off stump, halting his 215 minute, 178 ball resistance and it was looking bleak for New Zealand.

They needed better from key man Ross Taylor who continued a series where he's got a start but not gone on to a big one. Well poised on 36, he drove ambitiously on the up to Shannon Gabriel and edged behind.

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New Zealand had lost 5-92 when Hamish Rutherford (13) departed as his struggles for form continued.

Rutherford dropped down the order due to a stomach bug, but looked shaky and after edging just in front of slip he offered no shot to Taylor and was lbw to an inswinger.

- Stuff

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