New Zealand builds 116-run lead in first test

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The Independent Online

New Zealand led the West Indies by 116 runs with six second innings wickets remaining after the second day of the first cricket test at Eden Park on Friday.

Ramnaresh Sarwan batted for two hours, 31 minutes for 62 and Dwayne Bravo was at the crease just short of three hours for 60 to make the main contributions to the West Indies' total of 257 in reply to the home team's Zealand's 275.

New Zealand had reached 98 for four at stumps, leaving the match well advanced and leaning in the tourists' favor.

Thirteen wickets fell on the first day, 10 on the second and the first innings of both sides were over within five sessions as the match careened along at a pace influenced by the teams' apparent over-exposure to limited-overs play.

New Zealand's last 22 matches have been limited-overs internationals, the West Indies have been similarly locked into the one-day game and batsmen have shown an inability to persevere in conditions which support accurate fast bowling.

Passing cloud cover has created humidity which has caused the ball to swing and a majority of batsmen have been out to catches while playing shots against well-directed swing bowling.

Scott Styris' three hour, 12 minute first innings century remained the longest innings of the match.

Sarwan and Bravo's sixth-wicket partnership of 89, which occupied a little less than two hours, was the longest and most productive batting stand in the match.

New Zealand's first innings was based around two innings of substance: Styris's 103 and Nathan Astle's 51. The West Indies, following suit, owed its similar total to Sarwan and Bravo's half centuries and Dwayne Smith's dashing 38, which filled out a 58-run partnership with Bravo.

"I went in with the team in a bit of trouble and I had to apply myself," Bravo said. "It seems a good batting track but in terms of the conditions whenever the weather changes the ball seems to play a few tricks.

"I still think we're in a good position and tomorrow, we're going to come out and give it our best shot."

New Zealand gained its slim first innings lead by following a careful plan, tailored to the perceived traits of each batsman. It's critical breakthrough was in dismissing Brian Lara for five during the morning session, as the West Indies batted on from 51-3.

Lara's wicket fell to Shane Bond, who caused him to mistime a hook and to drag a ball from the toe-end of the bat to square leg where the catch was taken by 19-year-old substitute fieldsman Carl Cachopa.

Chris Martin took three wickets, including two in the middle session to hurry the West Indies toward dismissal, while Daniel Vettori wrapped up the tail, dismissing Denesh Ramdin and Jerome Taylor. His two wickets were his first in a test on Eden Park in six years.

"Obviously it's not an easy wicket to bat on. Look at ways guys have been getting out," said Vettori. "Apart from Scott Styris no-one's really got in on it.

"We're still hoping to get a score in excess of 300 and put some pressure on them."

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming was the key to that objective, reaching 19 not out by stumps Friday. He was dropped down the leg-side by wicketkeeper Ramdin before he had scored and he gave two more chances before the close of play.

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