Black Caps left praying for rain as defeat looms

GIMME FIVE: West Indies players Sulieman Benn, left, Chris Gayle, centre, and Kemar Roach the wicket of Ish Sodhi.
GIMME FIVE: West Indies players Sulieman Benn, left, Chris Gayle, centre, and Kemar Roach the wicket of Ish Sodhi.

Not for the first time, B J Watling showed how it was done when the horse had bolted.

Watling's unbeaten 38 in 4 hours pushed the second cricket test into a fifth day, but left New Zealand needing rain intervention to avoid defeat to the West Indies and send the series to a Barbados decider at 1-1.

What went before was a second poor batting performance in as many innings, some promising starts but no-one kicking on to three figures as West Indies pair Kraigg Brathwaite and Darren Bravo did. The Black Caps ended day four on 257-8, a lead of 18.

Kane Williamson's hard-toiling 52 was the best of the New Zealand top-six, before he sparred at a delivery and was caught behind, on a pitch he described as still good for batting.

"There's been some performances we look back on that we're not entirely happy with. But to bat a day like we did today and for BJ to bat four and a bit hours was a huge effort in those conditions. They're the characteristics we want to show day in, day out," Williamson said.

Watling shows all the qualities of an opener and he began his test career at the top of the order.

With the headache over the New Zealand opening pair as strong as ever, Watling appears an ideal partner for Tom Latham.

Coach Mike Hesson has consistently shot down a shift up the order for Watling, arguing he's the best gloveman in the country and his performances at No 7 are better than those at the top when his international career was in its infancy.

Still, as a one-off it would cause minimal disruption, with Luke Ronchi in the squad as a backup gloveman. New Zealand need some kind of quick fix before Barbados with Hamish Rutherford looking only marginally better than the axed Peter Fulton in his two innings at Queen's Park Oval.

Rutherford flayed at a wide one in the first innings, then after being struck down with a stomach bug and slipping down to No 7, struggled before not offering a shot to a Jerome Taylor inswinger to be trapped in front for 13.

New Zealand had lost 5-92 with Rutherford's departure and defeat inside four days looked a solid bet. It was a big role reversal from Kingston where the Black Caps dominated from the front and the West Indies' batsmen gave it away.

Watling had support from Mark Craig (29 not out) as they added 45 for the ninth wicket.

The West Indies' grip loosened only in the final 90 minutes as skipper Denesh Ramdin spread the field instead of going for the kill as the bowlers wilted in the 35 degree Celsius heat.

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

Pacemen Kemar Roach and 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.

Latham (36) got the classic unplayable delivery from Benn to be caught at bat-pad, Jimmy Neesham (7) was victim of a stunning Benn caught-and-bowled and New Zealand's other big hope Ross Taylor continued a series of promising starts but no big knock. On 36 he tried to flay Shannon Gabriel through the covers but got a fine edge.

The Dominion Post