Hundred for Blackwood, but Black Caps win to take series lead
SUMMARY: New Zealand 519 for 7 dec (Williamson 251, Latham 86, Jamieson 51*, Roach 3-114, Gabriel 3-89) beat West Indies 138 (Southee 4-35, Jamieson 2-25, Wagner 2-33) and 247 (f/o) (Blackwood 104, Joseph 86, Wagner 4-66, Jamieson 2-42) by an innings and 134 runs
In the end, it ended with a full ball from Neil Wagner. The man who has turned bowling sustained short-ball spells into an art form got six wickets in New Zealand’s first Test victory over West Indies, and only one of them via a short ball.
It was the kind of end that was strangely fitting in a Test that New Zealand dominated, as evidenced by their victory margin of an innings and 134 runs, but where they were made to stretch themselves a bit further than they would have imagined. It still ended up being New Zealand’s biggest win over West Indies in terms of innings victories, and their fifth biggest ever.
West Indies had got through the first hour of the fourth day with the overnight pair of Jermaine Blackwood and Alzarri Joseph still together. Not only had their partnership crossed 150 – more than the entire first-innings total West Indies mustered – but Blackwood had also progressed to a second Test century.
The clouds that had gathered for much of the third day had given way to bright sunshine on day four, and both Blackwood and Joseph continued to be positive. That didn’t mean they attacked indiscriminately, but they were assured while defending and leaving the ball, and full of punch when putting it away.
Blackwood showed great control of his game, not shelving his aggressive instincts but picking his moments well. He had a bit of luck early on when Tim Southee got one to shape away beautifully in the channel and draw a leaden-footed drive, but New Zealand’s catching woes that dogged them in the latter part of West Indies’ second innings continued, as Ross Taylor put down a straightforward chance at first slip.
That was Blackwood’s only blemish in the first hour, and he got to his century via the patient route, through singles rather than any ambitiously aimed big shots.
Joseph, who had crossed fifty in a Test match for the first time, was impressive too. He showed sound judgement of his off stump when leaving the ball, and had a full range of shots.
When defending he got behind the line, and when a few balls were banged in short to him, he carted them in the arc between backward square leg and deep midwicket. He had shown vulnerability against the short ball earlier, but for that to come into play the bowlers needed to get it up to his throat. When the short ball sat up, Joseph was not hanging back.
The seventh-wicket stand kept flourishing until Kyle Jamieson made the breakthrough. He had pushed Joseph on the back foot on the third day, and when he dangled one full and wide, Joseph went for it without the balance being quite right. He ended up slicing it off the toe end to deep cover to end a 155-run stand. After that the end was swift.
Wagner got his only wicket with a ball pitched in his half when Blackwood miscued a pull to backward square leg, cramped for room. In the same over, a fast and full delivery took out last-man Shannon Gabriel’s stumps to give Wagner his fourth for the innings.
New Zealand had only needed nine wickets to bowl West Indies out in both innings with wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich absent hurt both times, having injured his hand on the first day while keeping. West Indies captain Jason Holder later said it wasn’t still certain whether Dowrich would be fit in time for the second and final Test, starting on December 11 in Wellington.
Kane Williamson was the undisputed Man of the Match for his masterful 251. Wagner’s 4 for 66 were the best figures in the second innings, while Southee’s 4 for 35 in the first innings had set up West Indies’ collapse. (ESPNCricinfo)