BJ-Watling scored a defiant half-century © Getty Images (File Photo)
By R Vishal
May 20, 2014
After a magnificent 99-run partnership from BJ Watling and Mark Craig blunted the West Indies bowling attack for almost close to a day, New Zealand finally folded out for 331. The skies in Trinidad are on the darker side but the hosts would be looking finish the match quickly with a mere 93 required to level the series 1-1. Kemar Roach was the pick of the bowlers, finishing with figures of four for 74.
After New Zealand were heading for a certain innings defeat on Day four of the match, the hosts were on cloud nine after the Kiwi top order meekly surrendered. The top order’s poor show was more than compensated by Mark Craig, playing only his second Test and wicketkeeper BJ Watling. The two batsmen stood firm and wiped out the deficit, negating Sulieman Benn’s threat with a rock solid defence.
The two batsmen reached the end of Day four by coming out of the red zone and having a paltry 12 run lead in the bank. With the pitch hardly having any demons on the pitch, Craig and Watling came out with a positive intent although their approaches were as different as night and day. Craig was playing some cracking shots that had the assurance of a top order batsman and Watling was calm, patient and put a hefty price on his wicket.
Craig’s slightly expansive style meant that the close in fielders did have chances in the early part of the day’s play. There was a lot of work to do the point and gully fielders but Chris Gayle spooned an absolute sitter at first slip. The ball came to Gayle at a comfortable height and it went begging. After that lifeline, both batsmen thwarted the bowling attack at will. They played their shots and brought up quite a few boundaries and with that, their half-centuries too. There was a bit of a rain delay too and it looked like New Zealand had pulled off a massive heist.
Craig’s bad habit of tentatively fishing outside the off-stump finally led to his downfall after Kemar Roach got his edge and Dinesh Ramdin took a safe catch. The decision was referred to see if there was a bump-ball and it was out. Watling was unperturbed and carried on the same unflinching manner. Last man Trent Boult also played cautiously and lent ample support to Watling. Shannon Gabriel induced a faint edge of an uneasy bouncer off Trent Boult and it was curtains for New Zealand.
New Zealand 221 (Tom Latham 82, Kane Williamson 42, Ross Taylor 45*; Jerome Taylor 4 for 34, Sulieman Benn 3 for 73) & 331 (Kane Williamson 52, BJ Watling 66*,Mark Craig 67; Kemar Roach 4 for 74,Shannon Gabriel 2 for 66) lead West Indies 460 (Kraigg Brathwaite 129, Darren Bravo 109; Ish Sodhi 4 for 96, Trent Boult 3 for 75) by 92 runs.
(R Vishal is a journalist and alumnus of Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)