New Zealand completed the first step of its mission for the home summer when it beat the West Indies by an innings and 134 runs on Sunday on the fourth morning of the first cricket Test.
The win began New Zealand’s drive to win all four of its home Tests — against the West Indies and Pakistan — this season which could lift it into the top two in Test rankings, depending on the series between Australia and India.
A 2-0 series win over the West Indies likely will be enough to lift New Zealand above England into third place on the WTC standings.
The first step on Sunday was decisive.
The West Indies resumed at 6-196, still 185 runs behind New Zealand after being asked to follow on 381 runs in deficit on the first innings.
They were finally all out for 247.
“We knew the West Indies coming here were going to be a really tough challenge and we were fortunate to get off to a really good start in this match and hold that position,” New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said.
“Coming into today we also knew it was going to be tough. This West Indies side bat very deep and they showed that as their middle and lower order applied themselves very, very well.”
The stubborn seventh wicket partnership between Jermaine Blackwood and Alzarri Joseph which prevented New Zealand from wrapping up the match on the third day by bowling out the West Indies twice in one day finally was broken in the 58th over of the innings, the 16th of the day on Sunday.
The partnership had been worth 107 runs by stumps on day three when Blackwood was 80 not out and Joseph was 59.
The pair provided one of the few displays of defiance from the West Indies batsmen and the only one on Saturday when the tourists lost 15 wickets for 285 runs in 80 overs.
Blackwood, who resumed at 80 not out, went on to his second Test century in an outstanding attacking innings, played out against a gloomy background for the West Indies.
The tourists were 6-89 in their second innings when Blackwood was joined in the middle by Joseph, a bowler with an ambition of being recognised as an allrounder.
They frustrated New Zealand’s bowlers through the last two hours of the third day, guiding the West Indies to 196 without further loss by stumps.
The New Zealand bowlers had dominated the third day, bowling out the West Indies for 138 in their first innings as they replied to New Zealand’s 7-519 declared.
That total was based around Williamson’s 251, his third Test double century and highest Test score.
Williamson enforced the follow on and the New Zealand bowlers, still fresh after bowling only 38 overs, continued to hold sway over the West Indies batsmen.
They reduced the tourists to 4-30 by lunch and 6-89, again maintaining pressure on the top order batsman.
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Blackwood and Joseph changed the tone of the day with a stand which was both stubborn and belligerent.
When Joseph was out for 86 in the 58th over, they had batted for 35.5 overs and added 155 runs.
Joseph was creeping towards a maiden Test ton when he lofted a full, wide delivery from Kyle Jamieson to substitute fielder Mitchell Santner on the off side.
Blackwood followed only five balls later, gloving a catch to Tim Southee behind square off Neil Wagner.
The innings itself ended after only four more balls at 9-247 when Shannon Gabriel was bowled by Wagner.
Wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich again was unable to bat because of a broken finger.
“We just weren’t good enough,” West Indies captain Jason Holder said.
“Our bowlers tried, they passed the bat quite a few times.
“But credit to Kane. He played an outstanding innings and made us toil and work hard to get him out.
“Our batting just wasn’t good in both innings but I just want to say credit to Jermaine Blackwood and Alzarri Joseph for bringing some respectability towards our batting.”