West Indies 214-2 at stumps on day 3, 1st test vs NZ

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) Kraigg Brathwaite and Shimron Hetmyer scored half centuries as the West Indies rallied resolutely from a heavy first-innings deficit to reach 214-2 at stumps on the third day of the first cricket test against New Zealand.

The tourists began their second innings 386 runs behind New Zealand, which declared its first innings at 520-9, and finished in a better position but still 172 runs behind.

Brathwaite batted in a gathering gloom through the last two sessions to reach 79 not out by stumps, putting on 72 for the first wicket with Keiran Powell (40) and 94 for the second with Hetmyer, who made 66. He added a further 48 with Shai Hope (21 not out) in an unbroken stand for the third wicket as the light faded.

The New Zealand bowlers struggled Sunday on an easing pitch at the Basin Reserve. Neil Wagner, who took a career-best 7-39 in the first innings, had 0-89 from 15 overs at stumps in a sign of how the tables have turned.

Earlier, Tom Blundell endured an anxious passage through the 90s before becoming the 11th player from New Zealand and its first wicketkeeper to score a century on test debut.

Blundell resumed his first test innings on 57 Sunday in a last-wicket partnership with Trent Boult which eventually yielded 78 runs, and he was 107 not out when captain Kane Williamson – the last Kiwi to score a century on debut – declared New Zealand’s innings.

Wellington wicketkeeper Blundell achieved his maiden century on his home ground and in the shadow of his old school, Wellington College which is just across the road from the Basin Reserve. When he spoke to reporters before the match, after being called into the New Zealand team in place of the injured B.J. Watling, he told of walking past the Basin Reserve everyday on the way to school and dreaming of scoring a century for New Zealand. At 27 that dream came true.

”I always visualized getting a hundred out here on debut and to come true is pretty special,” Blundell said.

But there was high tension before Blundell’s milestone was achieved. After progressing quickly in the early stages of the morning session, carrying the tally of fours in his innings to 13, Blundell became bogged down in the 90s.

He faced 41 balls in going from 90 to his century and 10 of those while stuck on 99. In fact a full 10 overs elapsed as Blundell made his slow progress through the 90s to a century which came when he edged a ball from spinner Roston Chase to square leg for two runs.

At the same time he had to rely on stoic support from No. 11 Boult, who had to face over after over in order to allow Blundell to get his chance to reach his debut century.

”The way he batted was pretty special and to get me through to a hundred was great,” Blundell said. ”The West Indies bowled really well. I was in the 90s for a while and on 99 for a while and they just bowled really tight lines.”

Boult survived two trials under the Decision Review System for lbw appeals which had been turned down and was dropped at short leg off Jason Holder when Blundell was 99.

Two of those chances came in the same over from Holder, the 147th of the innings. Boult first flicked a hard chance to the close-in fieldsman, who got both hands to the ball but couldn’t hold the chance. Two balls later he was struck on the front pad by a full toss.

Blundell’s century built on the work of Colin de Grandhomme, who scored his maiden test century from 71 balls on the second day.