Kane Williamson scores seventh test ton

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 09:33 30/06/2014
Denesh Ramdin
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The New Zealand cricketers celebrate the wicket of Denesh Ramdin with Tim Southee on the final day of the third test against the West Indies in Barbados.
Kane Williamson
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TERRIFIC TON: Kane Williamson scored his seventh test century this morning in the third test against the West Indies.

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Kane Williamson marched to his highest test score amid the Barbados rain as New Zealand's lead topped 300 heading into a tense final day of the third and deciding cricket test against West Indies.

After the players returned for 4.2 overs in the evening gloom, the rain closed in again with New Zealand 331-7 in their second innings, a healthy lead of 307 at stumps on day four. The immovable Williamson was unbeaten on 161, having controlled the West Indies attack for nearly six-and-a-half hours.

With the series poised 1-1, the Black Caps will be desperate for a fine day tomorrow, with as many as 105 overs available to dismiss West Indies a second time.

Captain Brendon McCullum faces a tough decision around how long to bat and set the hosts a steep chase, or risk defeat and give his bowlers plenty of overs as they pursue just their second Caribbean series victory 12 years after the first.

They may opt to wield the willow for a short period tomorrow, weather permitting, mindful that the fast outfield and short boundaries encourage quick scoring.

Paceman Neil Wagner said yesterday they would back themselves to defend anything over 250, on a dry Kensington Oval pitch that was offering some variable bounce, but hadn't played as many tricks as expected.

Williamson and Jimmy Neesham (51 off 67) seized control for the Black Caps after day four began evenly poised, the tourists leading by 99. Just 55.1 overs were possible on day four as downpours caused a lengthy afternoon delay.

McCullum didn't linger too long, trapped lbw by Kemar Roach for 25 and unsuccessfully challenging the decision, before Williamson and Neesham added a rapid 91 for the fifth wicket.

Williamson was watchful and demonstrated soft hands and deft foot movement on the turning pitch, raising his seventh test century off 173 balls including 15 boundaries.

It drew him level with Martin Crowe in the New Zealand record books, both having notched seven test centuries before their 24th birthdays, three ahead of current batting coach Craig McMillan. Williamson turned 24 in August.

Neesham's flying test start continued as he blasted four sixes in a knock which gave New Zealand control. But just after raising his second half-century of the match, he was caught at short cover.

One criticism of Williamson was that he hadn't yet kicked on to a big century, with his previous best being 135 in the win over Sri Lanka at Colombo in November 2012.

This time he rumbled on, reaching his first 150 with a dab behind point for four off Jerome Taylor for his 21st boundary. He'd faced 271 balls at stumps.

Roach (4-55) was clearly the best West Indies bowler, but spin duo Shane Shillingford and Sulieman Benn twirled 44 wicketless overs between them. Benn couldn't repeat his five-wicket bag on day one and had figures of 0-94 off 26 overs.

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