Tim Southee leads relentless New Zealand attack as West Indies collapse


Lunch: West Indies 114 for 5 (Blackwood 18*, Holder 14*, Southee 2-33) trail New Zealand 519 for 7 dec (Williamson 251, Latham 86, Jamieson 51*, Gabriel 3-89, Roach 3-114) by 405 runs

It happened suddenly. Blue skies giving way to grey clouds. New Zealand loved that. They could sense the opportunity. And for virtually the entire first session on the third day, they couldn’t help but take wickets. They took five in the first hour, smothering the opposition under so much pressure that they really couldn’t figure out where their next runs would come from. West Indies began the day at a promising 49 for 0. They went to lunch 114 for 5.

People say that in Hamilton, the pitch doesn’t matter so much as the overheads. And that’s because no matter how green the surface is, it tends to play fairly true. But the moment there is something in the air – a little moisture, a little humidity – batsmen become endangered creatures. The overseas variety especially.

West Indies had shown a capacity to resist on day two. But they were being hunted now. Tim Southee was relentless. His ability to set up batsmen was on show in the first over itself, when he fed John Campbell a steady diet of inswingers, and then ambushed him with a wobble seam delivery.

It pitched on the same spot as those deliveries that kept buzzing around his inside edge. He thought he could pick it off; loft it down the ground. And as he went for the shot, he was appalled to find the ball moving the wrong way, taking the wrong part of the bat, and finding the wrong fielder as well. Kane Williamson has such safe hands.

New Zealand gave away only 65 runs even though they bowled 25 overs in the session. They were able to do that because of two crucial aspects that define their bowling. The ability to hit the same spot on the pitch over and over again. And the variety to always pose a threat.

Southee was able to knock over another West Indian batsman before his first spell was done – a remarkable outswinger that Shamarh Brooks had no choice but to play only to be caught at first slip. He is the leader of this attack. He set the tone. And when he was done, even the new kid knew what to do.

Kyle Jamieson is a truly exciting prospect. Especially in Test cricket. At 6’8″, his back of a length deliveries carry through like bouncers, often producing oohs and aahs. The experts call that pretty bowling. The kind that looks nice, but is mostly harmless. Darren Bravo might disagree with that considering he got hit on the glove by a vicious lifter.

It began playing on his mind. He became preoccupied all that extra bounce. He never saw the full one coming. Jamieson, even in his short career so far, has always been able to pitch the ball up to devastating effect. That alone is remarkable because so many tall bowlers – Morne Morkel, Ishant Sharma – have struggled to incorporate it into their game. Yet here is a rookie who not only does it at will, but he gets swing through the air too. Neither Bravo not his off stump stood a chance.

Trent Boult and Neil Wagner chipped in with a wicket a piece – one angling across Kraigg Brathwaite to take his edge, the other nipping it back to pin Roston Chase lbw. Right there is the reason why this bowling attack is so potent at home. Each member poses different kinds of questions and they all know how to be consistent with their lines and lengths.

New Zealand’s morning could have been even sweeter. Ten overs before lunch, Wagner trapped the West Indies captain and world No. 1 allrounder Jason Holder lbw for a duck only for replays to show that he had overstepped, by millimetres.

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