West Indies show fight with Brathwaite, Hetmyer fifties

Tea West Indies 134 and 107 for 1 (Brathwaite 34*, Hetmyer 27*) trail New Zealand 520 for 9 dec. (Blundell 107*, de Grandhomme 105, Taylor 93, Nicholls 67) by 279 runs
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Kieran Powell lost concentration after motoring to 40, but while Kraigg Brathwaite remained at the crease, West Indies’ hopes of making something out of the Test on remain alive. Brathwaite was 34 not out at tea, with a sprightly Shimron Hetmyer having moved to 27 off 44 balls in his company. Although they batted nicely in the session to move the score to 107 for 1, they still remained a monumental 279 in arrears.

Matt Henry was the man to break the opening partnership, and although the Basin Reserve pitch appears to have settled – as it tends to do – the remaining New Zealand quicks had their moments. Twice catches dropped just short of fielders. At no stage did run-making appear straightforward.

Powell had survived a close lbw shout off Trent Boult on seven – a decision that would have been overturned had New Zealand reviewed – but warmed to his innings soon enough, driving Boult for consecutive boundaries in the ninth over of the innings. Later, having squeezed Matt Henry for four past gully, he tonked Neil Wagner over the leg side for two sixes and a four, off consecutive Wagner deliveries.

It was possible, however, that Powell’s loss of concentration soon after was the result of a break in play. Soon after a long drinks break, Powell misjudged the pace of a Henry delivery, and tamely chipped the ball back to the bowler. Though an avoidable demise, he had helped West Indies set a platform for the innings – they were 72 before the first wicket fell.

Brathwaite, meanwhile, did as Brathwaite does, leaving and blocking plenty of deliveries, scoring only off the truly bad balls. His two boundaries were the result of wayward legside deliveries that he simply nudged fine. While he played chancelessly, Hetmyer had close calls. One Wagner bouncer took the top edge and flew over gully.

Later, attempting to pull a Henry short ball, Hetmyer was deemed to have been caught behind on seven, before a review overturned that decision – the ball having only collected bicep on the way to the wicketkeeper. Having driven the quicks to good effect, Hetmyer also advanced down the track to launch the left-arm spin of Mitchell Santner high over midwicket, late in the session.

Earlier in the day, Tom Blundell became the first wicketkeeper-batsman since 2007 to make a century on Test debut, as he and Trent Boult put on an unbeaten last-wicket stand of 78. West Indies had eased Blundell into the day by giving him easy pickings in the first few overs, but although they regained some discipline later on in the session, New Zealand’s overnight pair proved immovable.

Blundell faced nervous moments as he approached triple figures, spending 35 balls in the nineties. He eventually got to the milestone with a mis-hit stroke through square leg, and New Zealand had declared their innings closed soon after, the score on 520 for 9.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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