David Leggat: Second session woes for Black Caps

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Jimmy Neesham. Photo / AP
Jimmy Neesham. Photo / AP

If the deciding test against the West Indies goes south in the coming days, and with it the series, New Zealand will reflect ruefully on the second session of the opening day at Kensington Oval.

Having won the toss, in decent batting conditions, New Zealand stumbled to 293 - and only got that far courtesy of the remarkable Jimmy Neesham and Mark Craig's late defiance.

In the second sessions, New Zealand lost five wickets for 122, and only the most generous-minded would claim they had all been dug out by the West Indies bowlers.

Four batsman - Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, captain Brendon McCullum and Neesham - got established. Only Neesham cashed in, only to fall within sight of a third test century in just his fourth test.

The West Indies were 32 for none at stumps. New Zealand's bowlers have it all to do tomorrow.

As impressively as left arm spinner Sulieman Benn performed, getting bounce and some turn for his five for 93, and as brimful of aggression Kemar Roach was, New Zealand can only feel deflated after failing to make the most of the situation after winning the toss.

Hamish Rutherford somehow managed to chip his 12th ball to mid on - an opener edging to slips, lbw okay, but caught at mid on? - and in-form Tom Latham was undone by a beauty from Roach.

Williamson edged to slip; Taylor sparred a lifter to be well caught at gully; McCullum got in a dreadful tangle trying to pull a ball he shouldn't have and Neesham was run out in a mixup with Craig, for which he took responsibility.

At 194 for seven, things looked grim. However Neesham, who seems to have a sensibly positive philophy, playing attacking shots when the opportunties present rather than chasing them, knuckled down.

Craig, following his 67 in the second innings at Trinidad, was gritty and calm. He looks to have a good head on him in a tight spot and should be batting higher than No 9.

"I think we're probably a bit short," Neesham said.

"Anywhere north of 320-330 would have been a good effort. There's still a lot in it for the bowlers and if we can get a couple out early it could be interesting."

For the West Indies this was a day to savour.

They got back in the series with a 10-wicket win in Trinidad last week, have opted for five specialist bowlers at Bridgetown and can only be chuffed at events today. The hosts with the bit between the teeth? You bet.

- NZ Herald

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