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AFP
December 12, 2020

Nicholls’ charmed ton puts New Zealand on top

Sports

AFP
December 12, 2020

WELLINGTON: New Zealand’s Henry Nicholls rode his luck to post a crucial century as the hosts, weakened by the loss of Kane Williamson, survived a shaky start to reach 294 for six on day one of the second Test against the West Indies on Friday.

Nicholls, 29, survived multiple dropped catches at Wellington’s Basin Reserve as he snapped a 21-month string of low scores with his sixth Test century.

At stumps, Nicholls was 117 not out with Kyle Jamieson on one. From being on the ropes at three for 78, Nicholls said New Zealand now considered 400 would be “a good result”.

New Zealand won the first Test inside four days on the back of Williamson’s towering 252, but they are now playing without their talismanic captain who is on paternity leave awaiting the birth of his first child.

It was left to Nicholls to prop up the innings, but he had to survive dropped catches and even a technical malfunction, when a broken stump mic prevented a review, to bat New Zealand out of a hole.

“You just try and move on from them same as when your hitting a boundary or anything else,” Nicholls said, describing how he shut his near-misses out of his mind.

“It’s just batting, it’s cricket, it’s pretty fickle so I just keep focusing on what I’m doing and bringing their bowlers back for more spells.

“It was nice in the initial bit to get through to lunch. Just little milestones on this surface.”

Everything went the West Indies’ way at the start of the day when Jason Holder won the toss and made New Zealand bat on an emerald surface with cloud cover and a howling northerly wind.

After a couple of expensive early overs, Shannon Gabriel and Chemar Holder led an attack that had New Zealand pinned down with three wickets in the first 90 minutes.

The pitch offered pace, bounce and seam movement and when the bowlers found a good length and moved the ball, they were almost unplayable.

But when it seemed the odds were against the Black Caps, an out-of-form Nicholls stepped up.

When he joined Will Young in the middle, the sun emerged, the wind faded and the momentum swung New Zealand’s way.

As the total grew, so did the number of spectators with more than 3,500 in the ground by late afternoon with no crowd restrictions in the largely coronavirus-free country.

Nicholls played his way through a short-ball barrage, passing 50 for the first time in 14 innings but riding his luck as chances were spilled and nicks fell in no-man’s land.

Score Board

West Indies won toss

New Zealand 1st Innings

T. Latham c da Silva C. Holder 27

T. Blundell b Gabriel 14

W. Young c J. Holder b Gabriel 43

R. Taylor c da Silva b Gabriel 9

H. Nicholls not out 117

B. Watling b Joseph 30

D. Mitchell lbw C. Holder 42

K. Jamieson not out 1

Extras (b2, lb6, w3) 11

Total (6 wickets; 84 overs) 294

To bat: *T Southee, N Wagner, T Boult.

Fall: 1-31 (Blundell), 2-63 (Latham), 3-78 (Taylor), 4-148 (Young), 5-203 (Watling), 6-286 (Mitchell)

Bowling: Gabriel 18-5-57-3, J. Holder 22-5-62-0, Joseph 17-2-65-1 (2w), C. Holder 18-1-65-2 (1w), Chase 9-1-37-0

West Indies: Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, *Jason Holder, Joshua da Silva, Alzarri Joseph, Shannon Gabriel, Chemar Holder.

Umpires: Chris Gaffaney (NZL), Chris Brown (NZL). TV umpire: Wayne Knights (NZL)