2 December 2017
NZ declare with massive lead after Blundell's debut ton
By ESPN cRICinfo. Andrew Fidel Fernando
What West Indies hoped would be a brief spell in the field as they sought the final wicket of New Zealand's first innings became another session of opposition dominance. A further 73 runs were added, but so large was New Zealand's lead already, that it was Tom Blundell's quest for a century on debut that seized the morning's narrative.
Progress was not always smooth; Blundell spent 36 balls in the nineties. When he did eventually move to triple figures, becoming the first wicketkeeper-batsman to make a Test century on debut since Matt Prior in 2007, he was more relieved than exultant. New Zealand declared their innings shortly after, a lead of 386 in the bank. In the four remaining overs of the session, West Indies moved to nine without loss.
Blundell had been eased into the day, thanks to indiscipline from Miguel Cummins - a half-volley driven past mid on, and a leg-side ball helped to the fine boundary in the first over. Kemar Roach, who began from the other end, was more accurate, but was not immune to attack either, as No. 11 Trent Boult larruped a bouncer over third man for six.
When the two opening quicks had leaked 30 runs from the first six overs, Jason Holder switched the bowlers at both ends, bringing himself and Shannon Gabriel on to usher in a more sustained period of pressure. It was that stretch of bowling that produced West Indies' best attempts at a breakthrough. When Blundell was on 82, Holder struck him in front of the wicket, but the batsman survived - the ball found to be just grazing the top of the stumps upon review. A few overs overs later, Gabriel had Boult in trouble with a bouncer at the throat, only there was no short leg in place to receive the catch.
Though the scoring rate dipped substantially as the session wore on, New Zealand continued to march, ticking off milestones every few overs. A Blundell drive for four brought up fifty for the partnership, before New Zealand's 500 was achieved two overs later. The mission to push Blundell to triple figures was a little more fraught, West Indies suddenly becoming miserly, as nervousness entered the batting of both Blundell and Boult. The field was brought up, singles were turned down in order to supply Blundell with as much of the strike as possible, and offspinner Roston Chase delivered probing overs, using drift to his advantage.
Boult, in fact, offered a chance when Blundell was on 99, bunting a Holder delivery to short leg, only for the fielder to spill that sharp catch. It was a mis-hit through square leg that eventually saw Blundell reach his hundred. Later in that same over over, he launched Chase over the long-on boundary, and Kane Williamson soon called the last-wicket pair back to end the innings. Their partnership was worth 78 all told - Boult providing only 18 of those runs.
Of the West Indies bowling figures, Roach's 3 for 85 was the only creditable analysis. Cummins' 2 for 92 was next best.