Wellington, Dec 11 (AP):
Captain Jason Holder took a superb slips catch to give Shannon Gabriel his 150th wicket in his 50th test as the West Indies remained in a strong position Friday at tea on the first day of the second test against New Zealand.
Holder’s diving, one-handed grab at second slip removed Will Young for 43 and broke a troublesome, 70-run partnership between Young and Henry Nicholls, giving the West Indies their only wicket of the second session.
Several more chances were dropped which might have placed the tourists in an even stronger position and, at tea, New Zealand was 170-4 with Nicholls 57 not out and B.J. Watling 11.
Gabriel bowled superbly in both sessions and had 3-38 at the break. He ran in strongly with an almost gale force wind at his back, banged the ball hard into a green pitch at the Basin Reserve and found both seam and bounce.
But he wasn’t always well supported by his field. He seemed to have Nicholls’ wicket when the New Zealand batsman was 47 but Darren Bravo put down a relatively simple chance at first slip.
Bravo also dropped Nicholls from the bowling of Chemar Holder as the New Zealand left-hander lived dangerously. He offered several more half chances, bringing up the half century partnership with a hooked six which might have been caught if the fine leg fielder had not walked in from the boundary.
Determined to hook and pull, Nicholls also skied a chance into the leg side which fell just out of the reach of wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva.
With luck on his side, Nicholls raised his 10th test half century his first in 14 innings from 89 balls with six fours and a six.
The Basin Reserve pitch may have done a little less after lunch than in the first session when it seamed sharply and offered pace and bounce. Gabriel and Chemar Holder still found life and movement and frequently beat the bat but the pitch appeared to be settling into a good batting surface.
Jason Holder’s decision to bowl on winning the toss was a simple one and his bowlers supported his decision by bowling well in both sessions. The drawback was the strong wind, gusting to 120kmh (74mph), which made bowling challenging and fielding uncomfortable.
The bowlers, including Holder, who operated into the wind had an especially daunting task.
The wind may have abated a little by tea and the cloud had cleared into a bright, sunny day which will help bake the pitch.