Wagner stars again as New Zealand clinch series

Neil Wagner came back to haunt the Windies with a barrage of short balls that derailed their chase on Tuesday (December 12) in Hamilton in the second Test. Windies lost wickets at regular wickets throughout the day and went on to lose the Test by 240 runs and with that the series 2-0. Wagner, who wrecked the visitors in the first Test with short-pitched stuff, employed similar tactics on the fourth day to not only pick up three wickets but also cause some physical damage as Sunil Ambris’s wretched tour came to an end due to a fractured forearm.

Even though Wagner scarred their middle order, it was Trent Boult, who kicked off proceedings with a landmark wicket. Having started the day poorly, receiving a warning for running on the pitch, Boult bowled one short and wide to Windies skipper Kraigg Brathwaite, which was hit straight to gully. It was Boult’s 200th Test wicket, making him only the fifth left-arm seam bowler ever to cross that landmark.

Despite the wicket, Boult was not at his best as the other overnight batsman Shai Hope smacked him for a couple of boundaries which forced Kane Williamson to introduce Wagner into the attack. He made an immediate impact as Hope tried to pull a short delivery but only managed to get a top edge that was pouched by the fielder at long leg.

Ambris was then treated to a barrage of short-pitched stuff with one smacking his forearm. Seven balls later, the batsman left the field retired hurt and was immediately sent for an X-ray. It took Wagner just two balls to get rid of Shane Dowrich as the batsman tried to fend a short delivery that was gobbled by short leg. Even though a victory was a foregone conclusion by then, debutant Raymon Reifer showed tremendous resistance alongside Roston Chase as the duo put on 78 for the sixth wicket.

While Reifer remained sedate, Chase played some delightful shots off the front foot to help himself to a half-century. And once again, it was Wagner who provided the breakthrough that paved the way for New Zealand to have a crack at the Windies tail before Tea. Another short ball, another mistimed pull, another catch ended Chase’s stay.

It then took a superb one-handed effort to his low left by Williamson to end Reifer’s resistance and that wicket was followed by some pyrotechnics from the bat of Kemar Roach. The tailender literally swung at almost every single delivery and fetched a few boundaries. At one stage, Roach and Miguel Cummins added 33 runs in the space of five overs against the pacers that forced Williamson to change things up.

The introduction of spin at that point worked wonders as both Cummins and Roach were dismissed off consecutive deliveries by Mitchell Santner to finish the game. With the ODIs and T20Is to follow, Windies will be hoping to put up a much better performance after the Test debacle.

Brief scores: New Zealand 373 (Jeet Raval 84; Shannon Gabriel 4-119) & 291/8 decl. (Ross Taylor 107*; Miguel Cummins 3-69) beat Windies 221 (Kraigg Brathwaite 66; Trent Boult 4-73) & 203 (Roston Chase 64; Neil Wagner 3-42) by 240 runs.

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