WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- Kirk Edwards scored his second straight half-century of the series and Marlon Samuels his first in six innings, but another top-order batting slump left West Indies under a cloud in the rain-marred second Test against New Zealand on Thursday here.
Edwards, once more opening the batting, hit 55 and Samuels was unbeaten on an even 50, as West Indies, replying to the New Zealanders’ first innings total of 441, reached 158 for four at the close on the second day at the Basin Reserve, where 28 overs were lost due to the weather.
Given a chance to revive his Test career following Kraigg Brathwaite’s delayed departure from the Caribbean due to visa issues, Edwards showed his versatility, following up his 59 in the second innings of the first Test with another solid innings that included half-dozen boundaries from 74 balls in close to two hours.
He reached his landmark from 65 balls, when he drove Tim Southee through cover for a deuce and again looked composed at the crease before he was caught at cover off left-arm medium-fast bowler Corey Anderson from a leading edge, leaving the Windies wobbling on 103 for three.
Samuels, who has endured a lean period following his half-century in the first innings of the first Test against India last month in Kolkata, appeared to be close to his best, striking the ball cleanly and leaving alone deliveries that posed no threat to his survival.
He has so far struck nine fours from 57 balls in an hour-and-a-half of batting, taking advantage of some loose New Zealand bowling in the closing overs to add some respectability to the innings.
Persistent rain had delayed the start to the West Indies’ first innings, as not a ball was bowled between the re-scheduled lunch interval and tea break.
Edwards and fellow opener Kieran Powell endured a few testing deliveries from the New Zealand new-ball pair of Southee and Trent Boult to give West Indies a steady start before two wickets in quick succession had the visitors scrambling.
Typically, Powell looked unflappable at the crease, but he was trapped lbw by an in-swinging delivery from Southee for 21, which he challenged thinking he had gotten an inside edge, only to be disappointed.
Bravo, a double century-maker in the previous Test, never got chance to settle before he edged Anderson three overs later and was caught at second slip for four.
After Edwards was dismissed, veteran left-hander Shivnarine Chanderpaul joined Marlon Samuels at the crease and never looked in trouble until he drove loosely at a delivery outside the off-stump from Boult – in the first over of a second spell – and was caught at cover for six, leaving Samuels and Narsingh Deonarine, not out on 11, to bat through until stumps were drawn.
Earlier, West Indies were frustrated by the weather and stubborn batting from the New Zealanders’ lower order before they dismissed their opponents just before the rescheduled lunch.
Light to moderate showers delayed the start of the day by 1¼ hours before wicketkeeper/batsman Bradley-John Watling took advantage of inconsistent bowling from the Windies and anchored the bottom half of the Black Caps’ batting with a resolute 65.
Tino Best was the most successful of the visitors’ bowlers, taking 4-110 from 21 overs, Shannon Gabriel grabbed 2-86 from 25.1 overs and West Indies captain Darren Sammy collected 2-92 from 25 overs, but none of them distinguished themselves or made effective use of a green-top pitch with the kind of accurate bowling to put the New Zealand batsmen under pressure.
The Windies did not have to wait too long for their first scalp after New Zealand resumed from their overnight total of 307 for six.
Sammy had Southee caught at deep mid-wicket for 21, essaying a pull in the fifth over of the morning period, but the Caribbean side met resistance, when Ish Sodhi came to the crease and spent close to an hour with Watling, putting on 49 for the eighth wicket.
Best, who bowled the first over of the day which cost 12 before he was replaced by Sammy, was more successful when he returned for another spell with New Zealand 377 for seven.
He struck twice in his second over, when he had Sodhi caught behind for 27 trying to force a delivery through the off-side and left-hander Neil Wagner caught at second slip for a first-ball duck chasing a delivery angled across, leaving the New Zealanders 383 for nine.
But the inconsistent bowling continued to haunt West Indies and Boult joined Watling to further torment them in a record last-wicket stand of 58.
Key off-spinner Shane Shillingford suffered the most with both batsmen using the slog/sweep effectively to gather runs in the vacant deep mid-wicket position, as Watling reached his 50 from 106 balls with a cut through square cover for a single and Boult indulged himself with a typical tail-ender’s slog of 38 not out that included five fours and two sixes from 27 balls in close to 45 minutes.
Shillingford should have ended the fun, when Boult, on three, slog/swept him to deep mid-wicket in his 27th over – but Best muffed the chance right in front of West Indies head coach Ottis Gibson – and fortunately, Gabriel finally brought the flurry to a close, when he bowled Watling with a yorker a couple minutes before the interval.
The three-Test series is level 0-0, following a draw in the first Test which ended last Saturday at University Oval in Dunedin.
The Windies have lost their last two Tests at this venue, but the Black Caps have had a hard time playing in their capital city – failing to win on the last seven occasions dating back to third Test of their 2008-9 home series against India.
The visitors’ previous victory at this venue by an innings and 322 runs was under the captaincy of fast bowling legend Courtney Walsh. It was nearly two decades ago and was also the last time they won a Test – and consequently, a Test series – in this country.
NEW ZEALAND 1st Innings
(overnight 307 for six)
P. Fulton c wkpr Ramdin b *Sammy 6
H. Rutherford c wkpr Ramdin b Best 11
K. Williamson c *Sammy b Best 45
R. Taylor c Shillingford b Gabriel 129
*B. McCullum c Edwards b Deonarine 37
Corey Anderson c Powell b Shillingford 38
+B. Watling b Gabriel 65
T. Southee c Bravo b *Sammy 21
I. Sodhi c wkpr Ramdin b Best 27
N. Wagner c *Sammy b Best 0
T. Boult not out 38
Extras (b16, lb6, nb2) 24
TOTAL (all out) 441
Fall of wickets: 1-14 (Fulton), 2-24 (Rutherford), 3-112 (Williamson), 4-189 (*McCullum), 5-257 (Anderson), 6-296 (Taylor), 7-334 (Southee), 8-383 (Sodhi), 9-383 (Wagner)
Bowling: Best 21-1-110-4; Gabriel 25.1-5-86-2 (nb1); *Sammy 25-3-92-2; Shillingford 28-4-92-1 (nb1); Deonarine 16-2-39-1
WEST INDIES 1st Innings
K. Edwards c Rutherford b Anderson 55
K. Powell lbw b Southee 21
D.M. Bravo c Fulton b Anderson 4
M. Samuels not out 50
S. Chanderpaul c Anderson b Boult 6
N. Deonarine not out 11
Extras (lb6, w1, nb4) 11
TOTAL (4 wkts) 158
+D. Ramdin, D. Sammy, S. Shillingford, T. Best, S. Gabriel to bat
Fall of wickets: 1-46 (Powell), 2-67 (Bravo), 3-103 (Edwards), 4-119 (Chanderpaul)
Bowling: Boult 9-3-25-1; Southee 9-1-40-1 (w1); Wagner 7-1-37-0 (nb4); Anderson 7-1-20-2; Sodhi 3-1-18-0; Williamson 2-0-12-0
Position: West Indies trail by 283 with six first innings wickets standing
Umpires: I. Gould (England), P. Reiffel (Australia)
TV umpire: N. Llong (England)
Match referee: R. Mahanama (Sri Lanka)
Reserve umpire: G. Baxter (New Zealand)