The rain in England appears to have gone as far as the Caribbean, as the deciding third and final test on the second day between the West Indies and New Zealand at Kensington Oval, Barbados was marred by the weather.
After bowling out the Kiwis for 293 on the first day, the Windies would have hoped to consolidate their position. A half-century by opener Kraigg Braithwaite set the tone for them. Braithwaite's fifty comes after a hundred in the previous test at Trinidad. He and opener Chris Gayle put together a 79 run partnership.
The first hour mainly comprised of the Kiwis employing the short–ball tactic against the openers. Chris Gayle in particular looked in some discomfort when facing Trent Boult. Boult's fellow paceman, Tim Southee nearly had Gayle caught at leg gully. The dashing West Indian opener looked to hit out of trouble as he recorded three fours in three balls.
As Gayle was nearing his third fifty in four innings on 42, he failed to curb his aggressive instincts and lofted a Mark Craig delivery to long-on. After West Indian spinner Benn's five-wicket haul, Kiwi counterpart Craig would have been looking to exploit the wear and tear in the pitch just as well. He however failed to make inroads.
Braithwaite held firm against the spinner. His driving particularly caught one's eye as he hit ten fours in his 68. The opener however mistimed a delivery by pacer Neil Wagner to short cover as Southee took a sharp diving chance. Braithwaite had added 74 runs with one-down batsman Kirk Edwards.
In the 74 run stand with Braithwaite, Edwards struck four fours and a six, remaining not out at 42. The West Indies in this test have gone with five bowlers, a gamble given the fragility of their top-order.
New Zealand bowlers detected some problem with the ball, as a result of which it was changed. The seamers despite a new ball appeared lacklustre. After lunch they seemed to be more aggressive as spinner Craig went round the wicket to generate bounce and Wagner was persistent. However, the heavens soon opened up and there was no further play.
Braithwaite's 129 was one of the reasons why West Indies won the second test. His 68 here has helped the Windies lay a platform.
"I am trying to build on my foundation. The hundred in Trinidad gave me a lot of confidence and I'm looking to move forward and cement a spot in the team at the top of the order. I try to give 100% every time. I told myself to be positive and look to play my strokes. It is a matter of control and looking to hit the bad ball. I won't say I have become more attacking, it's just that I'm more confident. However, I don't want to get too comfortable and lose focus on my goal, which is to make big scores for the West Indies," Braithwaite said.
New Zealand would be hoping to claw their way back into the game. With Edwards going strong, Bravo still at the crease and the ever redoubtable Chanderpaul yet to come, the Kiwis have a job on their hands. The wicket of Braithwaite provided them with a much-needed boost.
"It was quite good to break the partnership, and obviously, to squeeze the next batters coming in.They got away a bit this morning and batted quite well, so it wasn't really an ideal start for us. We just need to focus on what we can do tomorrow and come in and change," said pacer Wagner.
Where to Watch Live
The 3rd Test Day 3 is scheduled for a 10:00 am local (7:30 pm IST, 2:00 pm GMT) with live coverage on Ten Cricket and Ten HD in India. Catch ball-by-ball update of the match online HERE. Catch the action live on TV on Sky Sports 2 in New Zealand, while viewers can also live stream the action HERE. Viewers in the US can watch the game on Willow TV while the action can also be live streamed HERE or HERE. Watch the match in Caribbean on Sports Max, while South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa viewers can view the match on SuperSport and live online HERE.