Kane Williamson struck a fine half-century to help New Zealand recover from an early setback and build a 99-run lead on Day 3 of the third Test match against West Indies at Barbados on Saturday.
When Williamson arrived at the crease, the Black Caps had lost opener Tom Latham for a duck and were trailing by 23 runs in the second innings. The 23-year-old stitched a 55-run partnership for the second wicket with Hamish Rutherford, to help the visitors recover from the early blow.
Kiwis lost Rutherford (19) and Ross Taylor (6) inside five overs but Williamson held one end firmly and scored 58 not out at stumps on Day 3. The right-hander made an unbeaten 55-run partnership with skipper Brendon McCullum (23 not out) as New Zealand finished the day on 123 for three.
Kemar Roach was the pick of the bowlers and took two wickets, while Jason Holder chipped in with one. Sulieman Benn, who finished with a fifer in the first innings, remained wicket-less.
Earlier in the day, the visitors clawed back in the match, courtesy of left-arm pacers Neil Wagner and Trent Boult. Wagner finished with four wickets, while Boult took two wickets as West Indies were bundled to 317, after starting the day on 169 for two.
Wagner got the wickets of Kraigg Brathwaite (68), Darren Bravo (24), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (15) and Benn (1). Boult, who was ineffective in the morning session, made the second new-ball talk and took two wickets - Denesh Ramdin and (45) and Roach (0) - in two overs.
Windies tried to build small partnerships towards the end but the Kiwi pacers wrapped up the tail at tea. Jason Holder finished with a 76-ball 38, while Shane Shillingford made 10 not out.
"We bowled a lot better in partnerships and created a bit more pressure for longer periods of time and started getting rewards for it," Wagner said. "So overall quite happy with the bowling performance today."
"Quite nice to get a couple of wickets under the belt and be back in the team and doing a good job. Quite nice getting that opportunity and make full use of it. It is always good to play for your country and represent them on the international stage."
Wagner praised Williamson and McCullum for seeing through the day and insisted they can defend a total of 250 on a slow Bridgetown pitch.
"Kane (Williamson) and Baz (McCullum) batted quite well at the end, did an awesome job there," Wagner added. "Getting us to a 98-run or so lead, which is brilliant. We would have taken that any day. Anything above 250 gives us bowlers a good chance to defend it.
"It is only going to get harder to bat on towards the end but we know they can come out swinging. Our bowlers are pretty confident what we have done in the past, in the last couple of months. If we get 250, we will be happy with defending that."
Meanwhile, West Indies pacer Holder said the pitch is two-paced and is easy to bat on. He insisted that the hosts can chase a target of anything around 230-250 on this pitch.
"Not easy to start," Holder said. "It's a pitch where you know you've got to get in. It's a little two-paced and I thought Wagner bowled very well, very tempting and testing. But once you get in it's a lot easier to score."
"It's still a pretty good pitch to bat on. It'll be interesting to see the way New Zealand play tomorrow; see if they can put runs on the board first to get. I just think if we maintain discipline tomorrow morning and hit our straps it will be difficult for them to score."
Where to Watch Live
The 3rd Test Day 4 is scheduled for a 10:00 am local (7:30 pm IST, 2:00 pm GMT) start 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.