Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Cricket: NZ near rare series win

New Zealand resumed this morning on 156-3, before Ross Taylor brought up yet another century. Photo / Getty
New Zealand resumed this morning on 156-3, before Ross Taylor brought up yet another century. Photo / Getty

West Indies 367 and 103
New Zealand 349 and 6-0

New Zealand closed in on their first series victory in eight years tonight, over an opposition other than Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

Trent Boult's swing, movement, pace and accuracy were evident again following his 10-wicket bag in Wellington. He helped dismiss the West Indies for 103, leaving New Zealand a chase of 122 for victory. Openers Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford took them to six without loss at stumps.

Boult finished with figures of four for 23 from 10 overs which pushed him to 46 wickets in 12 tests for the calendar year - that's third in the world behind Stuart Broad (59) and James Anderson (48) who have played one more test.

He was backed up by Tim Southee with three wickets for 12 off 8.5 overs, including his 100th test wicket. He is the 12th New Zealander to complete the feat. Southee took three wickets in his final over to finish with a tally of 101.

Supporting both bowlers was the New Zealand catching, which, like in the Wellington test, was sublime. Kane Williamson's dive to his right at gully to remove Shivnarine Chanderpaul was probably catch of the day but it faced strong competition from Southee's effort low to his left at third slip to dismiss Kieran Powell.

B-J Watling produced consistency with the gloves, taking eight catches for the match. He joins Warren Lees and Ian Smith as other New Zealand wicketkeepers to complete the feat; Brendon McCullum leads the list with nine dismissals against Pakistan in 2009.

The West Indies shot-making was often atrocious as they shuffled across the crease and flayed anxiously; it was a sombre walk back to the field for the final two overs.

The flurry of wickets shadowed what was really Ross Taylor's day.

Taylor became the second New Zealander to score three consecutive test centuries while leading his team to parity with the West Indies at tea. New Zealand finished on 349 in reply to the visitors' 367.

Taylor drove a ball for four through extra cover off Tino Best to bring up his milestone. Mark Burgess is the only other New Zealander to achieve the feat. Burgess did it in over 27 months (November 1969-February 1972) against three countries (Pakistan, England, West Indies); Taylor achieved the feat in 19 days against one.

Taylor was caught cutting to third man for 131, just the second time in the series he has been dismissed, giving him an average of 246.50. It included taking 20-runs off the seventh over with the second new ball from Tino Best. The over contained two sixes, his first of the series.

Taylor achieved a scroll of other statistical accolades. His average of 47.49 is the best in New Zealand history for those who have played more than 20 innings. He joined Nathan Astle on 11 test centuries with only Martin Crowe (17) and John Wright (12) ahead of him.

With one possible innings to come, Taylor's 493 runs are the second-most by a New Zealand batsman in a three-test series (he's 20 runs short of Andrew Jones' 513 against Sri Lanka in 1991). His 864 runs (from 16 innings at an average of 72) are the second-most by a New Zealand batsman in a calendar year (John R Reid's 871 across 24 innings in 1965 remains top).

The reassuring thud of Taylor's bat against West Indian deliveries is an abiding memory of 2013. He looked at his most composed working the ball into gaps and repelling the nagging deliveries of off-spinner Sunil Narine.

Narine looked the most dangerous West Indian bowler, especially off a good length, on his way to career-best innings figures of six for 91 from 42.3 overs. Another highlight was captain Darren Sammy taking his third catch of the innings, at first slip off Narine, as McCullum lashed at a cut shot on 12. His hands make a useful cocoon.

New Zealand finished the morning session on 249 for five, having added 93 runs for the loss of two wickets.

Narine bowled 14 straight overs and Sammy opted to stick with the old ball for the duration as the innings clocked up 98 overs.

Corey Anderson was the aggressor in contrast to Taylor's preference to placate and accumulate. Anderson preferred to play Narine off the back foot, watching the ball off the pitch. He was quick to seize on errors, and unleashed a series of square cuts to the mystery spinner at bay.

It was an important innings for the 23-year-old as he builds his all-rounder reputation. He finished with 39 confident runs before launching a lofted pull shot to Narsingh Deonarine at deep square leg in a concentration lapse.

SCOREBOARD

- NZ Herald

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