Cricket: Plenty of work still to cement victory

By David Leggat

Leg spinner Ish Sodhi (left) of New Zealand managed to remove Shane Shillingford with a googly. Photo / Getty Images
Leg spinner Ish Sodhi (left) of New Zealand managed to remove Shane Shillingford with a googly. Photo / Getty Images

There's no getting ahead of themselves among the New Zealand team as they eye their first test win in a year today.

They are eight wickets away from a victory which would surely give them a significant jolt of self-belief, but there are signs it'll be harder work to dislodge the West Indies today than it was first time around. And they won't need reminding England batted almost the last two days to comfortably save a test on the same ground last March.

The tourists start the penultimate day today at 168 for two, still trailing by 228 runs overall.

Weak West Indian batting, combined with thoughtful, clever work from the bowlers, had them following on, fully 396 runs adrift yesterday afternoon.

It is the second largest follow-on mark New Zealand have been able to enjoy in tests, behind only the small matter of the 444 runs they held over Zimbabwe in Napier last year.

The batsmen will have good batting conditions to utilise, but the question is whether - the remarkable Shiv Chanderpaul aside - they possess the batting wherewithal to get through another day.

Even if they do New Zealand have tomorrow up their sleeve.

They can't be thinking bubbly just yet, but someone might figure it's a good idea to put some on ice in the dressing room just in case the West Indies fold as meekly as they did earlier yesterday.

New Zealand's decision to enforce the follow on was a talking point, inasmuch as it asked a lot of the bowlers on a warm day.

The option was to bat again, score quick runs, give the bowlers a couple of hours off, then attack hard towards the end of the day.

Paceman Tim Southee felt the right call was made.

"They needed 400 to make us bat again, so we had plenty of runs in the bank and we hadn't bowled too many overs in the first innings," he said.

"Although the pitch has flattened out now, there's still a lot of time left in the game. You're obviously not as fresh as at the start of the test, but that's part and parcel of cricket. You find it within you as a player just to keep coming."

Southee led New Zealand's attack well, finishing with four wickets, there were three for new ball chum Trent Boult and a couple for young legspinner Ish Sodhi, including a tasty googly to remove Shane Shillingford.

Along the way Sodhi learned some lessons bowling to Chanderpaul, whose 76 was the only redeeming aspect to the West Indies first innings.

Chanderpaul, who became the seventh player to 11,000 test runs in the innings, worked Sodhi around the park, as he has many better bowlers down his almost-20 years at the test crease. But Sodhi battled back and his faster, straight ball to get Kirk Edwards lbw late in the day was a fine piece of work. Darren Bravo, who was on 72 at stumps, shared a 117-run stand with Edwards for the second wicket, which was the best partnership for the West Indies in the test. They will need plenty more of that today.

"Very rarely do you see a side fold twice in a game so they're always going to come out harder in the second innings and they'll have a bit more of a point to prove," said Southee.

- NZ Herald

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