Two down, two to go. New Zealand’s cricketers are halfway towards a four-test clean sweep this summer, a berth in next year’s World Test Championship final still within their grasp.
Led by senior swing bowler Tim Southee, who moved his tally to 296 test wickets, the Black Caps dismissed West Indies for 317 to complete an innings and 12 run win in the second test at Wellington’s Basin Reserve on Monday.
Victory was completed after just an hour of play on day four, after New Zealand won the first test by an innings and 134 runs in Hamilton. A disappointing touring side never applied extended pressure and it was largely one-way traffic across the eight days of the series.
Southee and new sensation Kyle Jamieson each snared seven wickets for the match, the latter in just his fourth test appearance, while stand-in skipper Tom Latham tasted his first test victory in charge.
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It stretched the Black Caps’ unbeaten streak at home to 15 tests (including 11 wins), since their most recent loss to South Africa at the Basin in March 2017. Their previous best unbeaten run at home was 13 tests, achieved twice (1987-92, and 2012-16).
Ranked No 2 in the world, the Black Caps also move level on points with top-ranked Australia, ahead of their big four-test home series against India starting on Thursday.
Pakistan now loom for three Twenty20 internationals starting in Auckland on Friday, before two tests starting at Tauranga’s Bay Oval on Boxing Day.
Another 2-0 test series victory will boost the Black Caps’ WTC points to 70 per cent (of all available), behind Australia’s 82 per cent and India’s 75, and a one-sided series between those two sides will assist New Zealand’s chances of making the WTC final at Lord’s in June.
West Indies resumed on Monday 244-6, still 85 short of making New Zealand bat again. Captain Jason Holder, who counter-attacked strongly on Sunday, was removed for 61 by Southee off the eighth ball of a day, a gem that clipped the top of off stump. From there it was a matter of time, despite a gritty 57 on debut from wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva before he was trapped in front by Neil Wagner.
New Zealand’s first innings set the platform after they were sent in to bat on a heavily grassed pitch. Without regular skipper Kane Williamson, awaiting the birth of his first child, it was hard work for the top order and the Black Caps were 78-3 on the first morning.
The average first innings total in the last five Basin tests was 212, but thanks to Henry Nicholls’ highest first-class score of 174, some diabolical West Indies catching and Wagner’s blistering 66 off 42 balls – his maiden test half-century – New Zealand posted 460.
That proved way too many for the West Indies, especially after they were skittled for 131 in their first innings with Southee and Jamieson taking five wickets apiece.
The West Indies will gladly wave goodbye to the Basin. Scene of their most recent test win in New Zealand, in 1995, they lost their subsequent visits to Wellington by an innings and 105 runs (1999), 10 wickets (2006), an innings and 73 runs (2013), and an innings and 67 runs (2017) before Monday’s defeat.
There were some excuses for the touring side, notably the fact they were on their second tour amid Covid-19, after tripping around England in a bubble in July-August. Still, this XI included eight members of the team who rocked England by four wickets in the first test at Southampton in July.
In Hamilton and Wellington, despite Holder winning both coin tosses, they never had the ascendancy over the Black Caps apart from periods on Friday when the ball seamed and leapt from the surface.
Batting was their big issue, with the West Indies top-five totalling 267 runs across four innings. A chunk of those were scored by opener John Campbell who hit 68 in just over three hours on Sunday before he chopped on to Jamieson.
AT A GLANCE
Black Caps’ 15-test unbeaten run at home:
March 2017: Drew with South Africa at Hamilton
Dec 2017: Beat West Indies by an innings and 67 runs at Wellington
Dec 2017: Beat West Indies by 240 runs at Hamilton
March 2018: Beat England by an innings and 49 runs at Auckland
March 2018: Drew with England at Christchurch
Dec 2018: Drew with Sri Lanka at Wellington
Dec 2018: Beat Sri Lanka by 423 runs at Christchurch
Feb 2019: Beat Bangladesh by an innings and 52 runs at Hamilton
March 2019: Beat Bangladesh by an innings and 12 runs at Wellington
Nov 2019: Beat England by an innings and 65 runs at Tauranga
Nov 2019: Drew with England at Hamilton
Feb 2020: Beat India by 10 wickets at Wellington
March 2020: Beat India by 7 wickets at Christchurch
Dec 2020: Beat West Indies by an innings and 134 runs at Hamilton
Dec 2020: Beat West Indies by an innings and 12 runs at Wellington