Record-equalling Taylor puts New Zealand in command

New Zealand edged closer to sealing the series in comprehensive fashion as they set Windies an intimidating target of 444 to win the second Test and level the series. Even though there are still two full days of Test cricket left, Windies’ chances of doing the improbable took a massive hit before stumps on Monday (December 11) with Kieron Powell and Shimron Hetmyer falling very early in the chase. By the close of play, Windies finished on 30/2, needing another 414 runs to win the game.

The victory was set-up by one of the very best in the country’s history as Ross Taylor smashed his 17th Test ton, to equal the tally of the late Martin Crowe and current captain Kane Williamson, for the most number of Test centuries by a New Zealand batsman. Taylor joined Williamson at the crease when New Zealand had lost both their openers. They had fetched a healthy lead of 152 after Trent Boult picked up the remaining two Windies wickets very early in the morning but the two quick wickets gave the visitors a sniff.

The experienced duo though batted with precision, with Williamson especially being positive, to once again turn the tables on the Windies. The visitors started off the second session in bright fashion though. The first half of the session clearly belonged to Miguel Cummins, who went through an outstanding spell to get rid of Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls. He first bowled a scorching yorker to Williamson to breach his defence and then followed it up by bowling a well-directed bouncer that was gloved to the wicketkeeper by Nicholls.

He also went on to rattle Mitchell Santner by hitting him on the helmet once, but the allrounder was eventually dismissed by Roston Chase. Taylor at the end displayed calmness despite witnessing the procession. He cut and pulled well on his way to a half-century and once he went past the landmark, the boundaries started flowing at a quicker rate.

Colin de Grandhomme briefly threatened before Shannon Gabriel accounted for his wicket, which involved a little bit of controversy. He was adjudged not out initially after being hit on the pad by Gabriel but Windies challenged the decision. It wasn’t conclusive if there was any bat on ball so the umpire had to take a lot of time. He then ruled it not out before checking ball tracking which eventually ruled the batsman out plumb.

Even though Tom Blundell and Neil Wagner followed de Grandhomme back to the pavilion quickly, the runs kept on coming from Taylor’s bat and that pushed the lead past the 400-run mark. Once Taylor went past the three-figure mark, Williamson waited for a few more overs before declaring the innings.

The move was viewed as a fairly bold one despite the target being 444. Williamson’s decision was vindicated though with Powell falling prey to a Boult outswinger with the outside edge grabbed by Tim Southee in the slilp cordon. Southee then was gifted a wicket just minutes before stumps when Hetmyer tamely chipped one to mid on. With two top order batsmen already back in the hut, the Windies can only look to delay the inevitable tomorrow.

Brief scores: New Zealand 373 & 291/8d (Ross Taylor 107*, Kane Williamson 54; Miguel Cummins 3-69) lead Windies 221 & 30/2 (Shimron Hetmyer 15; Trent Boult 1-11) by 413 runs

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