Cricket: Thunder-Boult blasts Windies away

By David Leggat

It's a long time between tunes but NZ side now on-song

New Zealand bowler Trent Boult leads the triumphant Kiwis off the Basin Reserve after his stunning performance in the second cricket test yesterday. Photo / Getty Images
New Zealand bowler Trent Boult leads the triumphant Kiwis off the Basin Reserve after his stunning performance in the second cricket test yesterday. Photo / Getty Images

At 6.15 last night, the New Zealand players and management walked out to the middle of the Basin Reserve.

They gathered in a circle and roared out their victory song, Black and White, to an almost deserted ground, accompanied by the permanent rumble of vehicles lapping the ground.

It has been a while. Their last home win against a leading team - due respect to Zimbabwe and Bangladesh - was at Dunedin in 2009 against Pakistan. A long time between clearing the throats.

This was a richly deserved success, by an innings and 73 runs, and a strange one for when the third day began there was no hint of what was to follow. Instead, the test was over in fewer than eight sessions.

Even the early overs yesterday didn't suggest anything out of the ordinary - well, until the eighth over at least.

Then Trent Boult donned his red and blue cape and roared through the West Indies' first innings. His late inswing was devastating, the batsmen had no answer.

He took five wickets in 15 balls and with the West Indies shot out for 193, New Zealand's team huddled for an important conversation: enforce the follow on, as they had at Dunedin, when it didn't work out; or bat again.

"Luckily we've got some strong guys in the team," captain Brendon McCullum said last night.

"We bounced some ideas off. There was some doubt [whether to enforce the follow on] and I've always been a fan of 'if in doubt take the aggressive action'. These guys responded brilliantly, and thankfully it worked."

However, as the West Indies openers Kirk Edwards and Kieran Powell took their partnership to 74, human reaction would have seen the odd doubt creep in.

It was then that a passage of play which might otherwise be overlooked became critical to what followed.

Tim Southee, perhaps eyeing his Northern Districts mate Boult's success, bowled a memorable, penetrating nine-over spell and took three for 19.

At the other end, Neil Wagner, who had not had a notable test, found the edge of Darren Bravo's bat in the course of his best, most energetic spell of the series, and delivered an exuberant, fist-pumping celebration.

Bravo thus experienced the vicissitudes of (cricket) life. A double century to save the first test, then 4 and 0 in 14 balls at the Basin Reserve. Funny old game.

"The spells those two put in justified not only the decision to enforce the follow on but also showed how good our bowlers are," McCullum said.

"Trent got the accolades, and quite rightly so, and he will continue to do so, but those other guys certainly played their part."

The end came rapidly after tea, Boult - who else - hurrying things along with a brilliant one-handed catch at point to dismiss Denesh Ramdin. It was fitting he should complete the rout, to end with 10 for 80.

West Indies skipper Darren Sammy was desperately disappointed at his team's capitulation. Boult's performance had shown up inadequacies in his team's seam attack. Their batting simply hadn't been good enough.

"But there's one test left and we've still got a chance to level the series - but it will take one hell of a fight," Sammy said.

Crowd-puller Chris Gayle is out of the West Indian ODI squad heading to New Zealand shortly. He is recovering from a hamstring tear. Allrounder Dwayne Bravo leads the group for the five-game series, starting at Eden Park on Boxing Day.

- NZ Herald

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