HAMILTON: Captain Kane Williamson of New Zealand scored the highest test score of his career on Friday with a majestic 251 as the hosts posted an imposing 519 for seven declared in Hamilton on day two of the first West Indies test.
In reply, with John Campbell on 22 and Kraigg Brathwaite on 20 after carefully navigating the 26 overs to stumps at Seddon Park, the injury-hit West Indies were 49 without loss.
Williamson, 30, slipped seamlessly back into the strict requirements of the red-ball game after two months of playing in the same Indian Premier League team as West Indies skipper Jason Holder.
After five overs, he was thrust into the test and faced 412 deliveries over the next 10 hours and 24 minutes, caressing the ball at all points as he selected the deliveries that needed to be played and rarely touched anything else.
Eclipsing his undefeated 242 against Sri Lanka almost six years earlier, Williamson’s third double century contained 34 fours and two sixes. It stretched his record in New Zealand to 22 centuries of testing, three more than Ross Taylor’s current colleague and former skipper.
The master batsman said It wasn’t really at the forefront of my mind,” when asked about reaching his best test score. “You just want to keep going and try to put yourself and the team in a position of strength, and the work wasn’t done to get to 240.”
West Indies fast bowler Roach lauded the ‘fantastic’ innings of Williamson but said that the West Indies remained positive.
“Apparently, Kane was the main person for them and kudos to him, it was a fantastic inn, one of the best I’ve ever seen,” said Roach. But, take away the innings of Kane, and we were with the other batsmen, and didn’t encourage the other batsmen to sit for as long.
It sure shows a lot of trust in the team to survive this evening and we will take more confidence into day 3.
As he dramatically raised the scoring rate after hitting 200, the first signs that Williamson was dreaming about declaring arrived.
His next 51 came from 42 shipments. He smacked two fours and a six in one Roach over before being gave out on 222, caught behind, only to be remembered when replays showed a no-ball was the delivery.
It was Alzarri Joseph who with his sole wicket of the innings, finally removed the New Zealand talisman, a short delivery that Williamson mistimed and was caught by Roston Chase at mid-wicket.
He went off to a standing ovation, and players from the West Indies rushed over to congratulate him on a masterful performance.
Williamson declared three overs later, after Kyle Jamieson had completed his half-century.
In his third Test outing, the tall Jamieson, with his unbeaten 51, is proving a good performer and was the only other batsman to contribute substantially to the tally of New Zealand on day two.
Taylor, who was not out overnight at 31, could only add seven before Shamarh Brooks, who took over the gloves from the injured Shane Dowrich, found him behind him.
The low-scoring streak of Henry Nicholls continued when he went for seven, extending his run to 13 innings without a half-century.
For more than 90 minutes, Tom Blundell helped Williamson but made just 14, while Daryl Mitchell could only add nine with Tim Southee not out for 11 at the close.
Gabriel took three for 89 for the West Indies, Kemar Roach took three for 114 and Joseph took one for 99.
Owing to an Achilles heel strain, normal first drop Darren Bravo did not field Friday and is likely to play down the order at seven, although regular wicket-keeper Dowrich did not participate on day two due to a hand injury and may not bat at all.
NEW ZEALAND (1st Innings, overnight 243-2):
T.W.M. Latham b Roach 86
W.A. Young b Gabriel 5
K.S. Williamson c Chase b Joseph 251
L.R.P.L. Taylor c Brooks b Gabriel 38
H.M. Nicholls c Holder b Roach 7
T.A. Blundell lbw b Gabriel 14
D.J. Mitchell c Holder b Roach 9
K.A. Jamieson not out 51
T.G. Southee not out 11
EXTRAS (B-11, LB-23, W-1, NB-12) 47
TOTAL (for seven wkts decl, 145 overs) 519
FALL OF WKTS: 1-14, 2-168, 3-251, 4-281, 5-353, 6-409, 7-503.
DID NOT BAT: N. Wagner, T.A. Boult.
BOWLING: Roach 30-7-114-3 (3nb); Gabriel, 25-6-89-3 (8nb); Holder 31-12-60-0 (1nb); Joseph 31-8-99-1 (1w); Chase 25-0-109-0; Brathwaite 3-0-14-0.
WEST INDIES (1st Innings):
K.C. Brathwaite not out 20
J.D. Campbell not out 22
EXTRAS (B-4, LB-1, W-1, NB-1) 7
TOTAL (for no wkt, 26 overs) 49
TO BAT: R.L. Chase, S.S.J. Brooks, J. Blackwood, S.O. Dowrich, D.M. Bravo, J.O. Holder, K.A.J. Roach, A.S. Joseph, S.T. Gabriel.
BOWLING (to-date): Southee 9-3-20-0;
Boult 5-1-6-0 (1w); Jamieson 6-2-7-0; Wagner 6-1-11-0 (1nb).