Wagner’s 7-39 puts NZ in charge of 1st test vs. West Indies

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) Neil Wagner was twice on a hat trick as he took career-best figures of 7-39, helping New Zealand dismiss the West Indies for 134 and take control of the first cricket test on Friday.

The West Indies reached 59-0 before losing all 10 wickets for 75 runs in the face of Wagner’s onslaught of accurate, short-pitched fast bowling.

A last-wicket partnership of 29 between Kemar Roach (14 not out) and Shannon Gabriel (10) made the collapse less severe.

New Zealand, playing its first test since March and its first against the West Indies in three years, was 85-2 at stumps with Jeet Raval on 29 and Ross Taylor on 12. Its command of the first day was undermined slightly by the loss of opener Tom Latham for 37 and captain Kane Willaimson, in a dry patch, for 1.

After losing the toss and being asked to bat at Basin Reserve, West Indies openers Kraigg Brathwaite (24) and Kieran Powell (42) looked completely comfortable in their 90-minute partnership for the first wicket of 59.

But Wagner removed Brathwaite with a bouncer for his first wicket, which was a prototype for most of the rest, and that began a collapse which was broken only by the lunch break. Seven wickets fell in little more than an hour in the second session.

”It’s funny, I struggled for rhythm at the start and didn’t really feel comfortable and I had to work really hard to get something to click,” Wagner said. ”Then it all started happening.

”We thought the wicket might do a bit more than it did. But that’s the Basin, it can do that at times and I thought we adjusted quite well and bowled good areas and asked good questions of the guys at the top of the order.”

The West Indies lost three wickets in the half hour before lunch and two more to successive deliveries from Wagner immediately after the break. That included Sunil Ambris, who suffered the indignity of being out hit wicket for a golden duck to the first ball of his test career.

Wagner went on to dismiss West Indies captain Jason Holder for a first-ball duck, one delivery after he removed Roston Chase. He twice had the chance of a hat trick but wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich survived the first hat trick ball and Kemar Roach the second.

Trent Boult chipped in with 2-36 – the wickets of Powell and Miguel Cummins – and Mitchell Santner effected the run out of Dowritch, whose 18 was the best effort after the openers.

By continually digging short-pitched deliveries into the ribs of the batsmen, occasionally surprising them with a fuller delivery or one that rises more sharply than the rest, Wagner found a tactic which was difficult to counter.

Though well-grassed, the pitch gave little assistance to the bowlers. It didn’t seam, its pace was uniform, and the bounce wasn’t extraordinary. In spite of warm conditions, the ball didn’t swing and, without that assistance, Wagner’s barrage of short-pitched deliveries became the most effective tactic.