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AFP
December 4, 2020

Williamson’s bat puts New Zealand in charge on bowlers’ strip

Sports

AFP
December 4, 2020

HAMILTON: A masterful innings from Kane Williamson, who was 97 not out at stumps, put New Zealand in charge on a day one of the first Test that should have belonged to the West Indies quicks in Hamilton on Thursday.

New Zealand closed the day at 243 for two after Williamson and Tom Latham (86) laid the platform with a 158-run second wicket partnership. Williamson will resume day two requiring just three runs to register his 22nd Test century, with Ross Taylor 31 not out.

The lush, green Seddon Park wicket had both sides dropping specialist spin in favour of all-out pace, and when Jason Holder won the toss there was no doubt he would make New Zealand bat.

But after a two-hour rain delay at the start of the day, getting maximum use from the pace, bounce and swing that were potentially on offer eluded the West Indies, who toiled for nearly six hours for little reward.

The day was further worsened for the tourists just before stumps when form batsman Darren Bravo was stretchered from the field after injuring an ankle. It started well for the West Indies when Shannon Gabriel removed New Zealand debutant Will Young for five on the last ball of the fourth over with the score at 14.

But for the next 51 overs Latham and Williamson patiently waited for bad balls to hit and were rarely tempted to play shots at anything else. Gabriel, Kemar Roach and Holder could not keep a consistent line and saw rare chances spoiled by fielding errors.

The 2.01 metre (6ft 7in) Holder used his height to extract some bounce but the no-risk approach of Latham and Williamson served only to tire the big Barbadian. Wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich had an uncomfortable day by failing to get a glove to a chance from Young, although the New Zealand opener went leg before with the next delivery.

Then Dowrich did not appeal when it appeared he had caught Latham on 43 off Holder, who also kept quiet. But replays indicated there had been contact as the ball passed the toe-end of the bat.

Unperturbed, Latham went to tea on 45, and four overs after the resumption he pulled a short delivery from Roach to the boundary for his 19th half-century. On 80, he was well out of his crease when he aborted an attempted cheeky single, but Shamarh Brooks’ shy at the stumps went well wide.

Roach, wearing a black armband in memory of his father who died recently, eventually bowled the left-hand opener off an inside edge from a full-length delivery. The composed Williamson underscored his self-restraint on 49 when he faced 24 balls before reaching his 33rd half-century with a single off Roston Chase when the West Indies called on the spin of the all-rounder. He has faced 219 deliveries for his 97.