Fleming foils West Indies

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The Independent Online

After their scare in the First Test, in which they scraped home by just 27 runs, New Zealand have taken command of the Second Test after two days.

Even in the absence of their leading strike bowler, Shane Bond, who was man of the match in Auckland and who removed Brian Lara cheaply with the one ball he bowled to the champion left-hander in each innings there, the West Indies could only muster 192 on winning the toss here.

The left-arm swing bowler James Franklin counted Lara as one of his five victims, caught at slip for one, his third single-figure score in his three innings of the series so far.

The New Zealand innings started in dramatic fashion with the openers Hamish Marshall and Jamie How falling to the last ball of the second over and the first of the third to leave the home side on 3 for 2. But New Zealand recovered to be 335 for 7 at the close, a healthy lead of 143 against opponents who are, as ever, prone to disintegration.

The revival was orchestrated by the New Zealand captain, Stephen Fleming. The elegant left-hander, playing in his 98th Test and his 74th as captain, compiled a stroke-filled 97, from 131 balls with a six and 15 fours. "I decided that after I had stuttered my way through 70s, 80s, 90s just to be positive. Live by the sword die by the sword," Fleming said. "It was disappointing to get out and a bit unexpected but by being positive you get lucky and I certainly had a bit of that."

Fleming and Peter Fulton, a tall, erect right-hander playing in only his second Test, shared a partnership of 163 before the captain, who offered chances at 47 and 81, was caught at third man cutting the fiery Fidel Edwards.

Fulton was badly missed off Chris Gayle's off-spin at mid-off at 23 and proceeded to 75. When he was out to the first ball after tea, it triggered a brief collapse in which three wickets fell for 39 to the energetic fast bowler Daren Powell.

But the West Indies could not press home their advantage and Nathan Astle, unbeaten on 65 at the close, and Daniel Vettori, caught at mid-on off Edwards in the closing minutes for 42, frustrated them with a seventh-wicket stand of 86.

"We may have been a bit too agressive but once again we have found ourselves in a position of strength," Fleming said. "If we put another 60 on, a 200-run lead is very handy and a good position to be in."

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