New Zealand beats West Indies by an innings and 67 runs

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) After a staunch effort by the top order, the West Indies batting crumbled for a second time in the first test to hand New Zealand a win by an innings and 67 runs on Monday and a confidence-boosting lead in the two-match series.

Trailing by 386 runs on the first innings, the West Indies started positively on day three and appeared to ready to carry that into the fourth, rallying behind Kraigg Brathwaite’s 91 to reach 231-2. But its second innings disintegrated around the lunch interval, with the arrival of the second new ball, and it lost its last eight wickets for 88 runs.

Brathwaite had anchored the top order, putting on 72 for the first wicket with Kieran Powell (40) and 94 for the second with Shimron Hetmyer (66) and as long as he remained at the crease there seamed a chance the West Indies would at least make New Zealand bat again.

But when he was out nine runs short of his seventh test century, the West Indies effort unraveled and after fleeting resistance from Shai Hope (37), Roston Chase (18) and Sunil Ambris (18) the second collapse of the match continued with increasing speed.

From 286-5 at lunch, 100 runs behind New Zealand, the West Indies lost 5-33 to be all out for 319.

South Africa-born fast bowler Neil Wagner, who took 7-39 in the West Indies’ first innings and was voted player of the match, struggled in the second innings and had 0-85 at stumps on Sunday after a tough third day. But he came to light with two important wickets after lunch on day four – those of wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich and captain Jason Holder who were both century-makers in the West Indies previous test against Zimbabwe.

Wagner finished with 9-141 for the match, just failing to claim his first 10-wicket haul in tests but producing the sixth-best match analysis by a New Zealander.

His performance on a flat pitch which didn’t live up to New Zealand’s expectations when it won the toss and bowled outweighed those of Colin de Grandhomme and Tom Blundell, who scored centuries in New Zealand’s only innings.

De Grandhomme scored his maiden test century from 71 balls – the second fastest by a New Zealander and the ninth fastest of all time – and Blundell, standing in for the injured B.J. Watling, became the 11th Kiwi to score a test century on debut.

The bowlers backed up that batting effort on Monday, thriving with the new ball. Matt Henry took 3-57, removing both Hetmyer and Powell to expose the West Indies’ vulnerable middle order then dismissing Chase. Trent Boult took 2-87 and the de Grandhomme, with his relatively gentle medium pace, removed Ambris with the first ball after lunch to set the final slide in motion.

”It was a superb effort all round really,” New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said.

The New Zealand batting effort was crucial after having dismissed the West Indies cheaply, he said. Beyond de Grandhomme and Blundell, Henry Nicholls made 67 and Ross Taylor 93.

”We’ve seen the West Indies in the last few series they’ve played and they’ve got better and better through those series so we’ll be expecting them to be better in the next test,” Williamson said. ”We saw today at 230-2, they were in a position of momentum if they were to take it further. We know they’ve got the talent to perform at the top of their game.”

Holder refused to make the toss an excuse for the first innings batting performance which placed his team under pressure for the rest of the match.

”It was a good batting wicket and I don’t think we helped ourselves the way we batted,” he said. ”We were indecisive with our stroke play and we fell to Wagner.

”We just didn’t handle it the way we should and we’ve got to find a way to be far more positive and assertive when it comes to short-pitched bowling.”