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Live cricket updates: Black Caps v West Indies, day two of second test at the Basin Reserve


All the cricket action between the Black Caps and West Indies.

Day 1 report: By Dylan Cleaver:

It is in no danger of winning any beauty pageants but Henry Nicholls’ sixth test century will go down as one of the most valuable moments of his career.

Without a 50 in his past 12 completed test innings, Nicholls survived then thrived to finish the day 117 not out, guiding his side to 294-6 and what already feels like a match-winning total.

In partnerships with Will Young (43), BJ Watling (30) and Daryl Mitchell (42), Nicholls established a position that didn’t seem likely when they were three down before lunch and the ball nipping around.

Even accounting for the fact that you need luck in tough conditions, Nicholls should never have got there – not even close. He’ll know that, but more pointedly so will the West Indies. He skied a messy hook shot that somehow fell to unguarded turf when just two, was dropped in close on 21, saw another top-edged hook clear a fielder it shouldn’t have on 29 and, incredibly, was dropped twice on 47 by Darren Bravo, both simple chances.

There’s a local Wellington brewery here called Fortune Favours; Nicholls could do worse than pop down after the test for a couple of cold ones.

To linger on that would be unbalanced. Nicholls’ journey from 50 through to his overnight score was mighty impressive. He hit some punchy drives but it was a nudge off the hip that raced for four that signalled he was back in the groove.

For the West Indies, it was another day of wasted opportunities.

They won the toss. They inserted. It was all Jason Holder could do on a wicket that looked more like a first-week Wimbledon court. From a purely cricket perspective, it was exactly what the series needed.

Holder had been harsh on his top order, deservedly so, in the immediate aftermath of the Seddon Park massacre and he doubled down on those twin edicts of patience and guts and also reiterated that the bowlers had played their part in Hamilton.

The free pass for the pace attack felt like a stretch. Kane Williamson’s technique was a roadblock to the bowlers’ ambitions but as a group they were half a metre short and, apart from the first wicket, failed to prevent partnerships forming.

Here they were greeted with a similarly bucolic strip of green but it was accompanied by a pohutakawa-bending northerly, the type of wind not often associated with summer in Bridgetown, Port of Spain or Kingston.

As the New Zealand openers flicked and drove their way pleasantly through the first few overs it must have felt, in the words of Yogi Berra, like déjà vu all over again.

Then something clicked or, rather, someone. Shannon Gabriel is built like a prototype muscle bowler. His stock in trade is the clichéd heavy ball, the splice rattler. When he asked to go fuller it takes a little time to recalibrate. When he did that he was borderline unplayable.

He jagged one back between Tom Blundell’s bat and pad and had Ross Taylor in a world of hurt before inducing a leaden-footed prod.

In between the debutants, Chemar Holder and wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva, combined to remove the stoic Tom Latham.

At 82-3 at lunch the test was finely poised with Young looking pleasant enough but a long way from permanent on 26, and Nicholls on two.

The pair were under pressure in different ways. Young’s was more signposted: when you bat first drop for New Zealand these days big things are expected. There was also a failure in his first test innings, albeit as opener.

The pressure Nicholls was under was less overt but probably more telling. An established player, Nicholls had nevertheless endured a lean spell dating back to when he scored a century against Bangladesh on this ground in early 2019.

With in-form batsmen around the country desperate for an opportunity, he would have realised there is no longer a selection policy of infinite patience. Injury or illness aside, there’s no danger of him missing the two Pakistan assignments each side of the new year.

The 70 they put on was hard to watch at times but it gave the innings the spine it needed so Watling and Mitchell could come in and put some flesh on those bones.

Young struggled to find any batting rhythm, often looking caught between front and back foot but compared to his batting partner, he could consider himself lucky. Approaching a maiden half century he prodded forward, got a thick edge and watched as Jason Holder dived to his right at second slip to take what the players these days like to call a speccy.

Something had to stick.


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