WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Henry Nicholls and Neil Wagner reached their highest test scores and shared a 95-run ninth-wicket partnership on Saturday which played New Zealand into a powerful position on the second day of the second test against the West Indies.
The position became even stronger when Kyle Jamieson took two wickets with consecutive balls and narrowly missed a hat trick as the West Indies plunged to 42-4 in reply to New Zealand’s first innings of 460 by tea.
Jamieson first had John Campbell caught by Tom Latham at second slip for 14, then bowled Roston Chase first ball with a superb in-swinging yorker.
The tall right-armer, who already has a hat trick in first-class cricket this season, had a chance for another when he struck Jermaine Blackwood on the pads with his next delivery. The on-field umpire judged the ball was going down leg and television replays confirmed his view.
In a dramatic period of play Jamieson had another lbw appeal next ball, this one fuller, but the ball again was missing leg.
Tim Southee first put the West Indies under pressure when he dismissed Kraigg Brathwaite without scoring — caught by Ross Taylor at first slip, then took a fine reflex catch from his own bowling to dismiss Darren Bravo for seven.
Nicholls held New Zealand’s first innings innings together with his sixth century, a career-best 174 during which he formed five partnerships of 50 or more including his last stand with Wagner.
Wagner celebrated his 50th test with a maiden half century and was 66 not out when the New Zealand innings finally ended at 460.
Nicholls’ marathon stay at the crease provided the thread that bound together the New Zealand innings after it lost the toss and was sent in on a green pitch on Friday.
New Zealand was 78-3 when Nicholls came to the wicket, with the West Indies bowlers holding the upper hand and making good use of the pitch’s pace, bounce and seam.
He struggled for much of his innings in those difficult, sometimes hostile conditions and he was dropped three times — twice at first slip when he was 47 — before he finally reached his first half century in 14 innings.
Having gone through that ordeal, a trial of character, he dug himself in and went on to his first century in three years, providing the solid anchor around which the rest of the New Zealand batsmen could work.
He had partnerships of 70 with Will Young, 55 with B.J. Watling, 83 with Daryl Mitchell, 50 with his overnight partner Kyle Jamieson and 95 with Watling which allowed New Zealand to reach a total which was formidable in batting conditions which are still testing.
Nicholls resumed at 117 Saturday and batted on throughout the morning session at the end of which he was 160, poised to surpass his previous highest test score. He did so early in the second session and still went on, happy to play a subordinate role to Wagner who blasted his way to 50 from 36 balls with six fours and three sixes.
The 50 partnership between the pair came from only 30 balls and included 39 runs from Wagner’s bat.
Nicholls had batted for five minutes more than seven hours when he was finally out, the ninth wicket to fall with the total 454.