Blackwood sees Windies keep control

New Zealand

The West Indies are still very much in control of the Port of Spain Test but New Zealand's reply to conceding a 239-run first innings lead has started strongly and the visitors made stumps on day three on 73 for one, 166 runs behind.

The West Indies are still very much in control of the Port of Spain Test but New Zealand's reply to conceding a 239-run first innings lead has started strongly and the visitors made stumps on day three on 73 for one, 166 runs behind.

Brendon McCullum (4) hardly improved on his first innings (three) score and he may regret his decision to bat first on a pitch that offered assistance to bowlers on the first day only, when his side was bowled out for 221.

Since then the Queen's Park Oval has appeared a batting paradise and the umpires did not have much decision-making to do as the home side piled on 440 runs and then the only chance in New Zealand's reply was when McCullum was adjudged lbw to Taylor.

The Windies started the day on 310 for five and nightwatchman Kemar Roach (six) kept out 43 balls before the man he protected, 22-year old debutant Jamaican Jermaine Blackwood (63), made an impressive half-century. If any readers could discover whether a side has ever used two nightwatchmen in two days and both the batsmen (Kirk Edwards made 55) they protected made half-centuries then please do let us know.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul (63) was lbw to leg-spinner Ish Sodi (four for 96), who was the pick of the Black Caps' bowlers on a day where seamers struggled to make any inroads. Off-spinner Mark Craig was the hero in Jamaica where he took eight wickets on debut, but he struggled to contain the batting in his second match as he went for 111 runs without the reward of a single wicket. Skipper Denesh Ramdin (32) played neatly to take his side to a rare good first-innings score.

Rain stayed away from the ground but there is a forecast of thundershowers for day four. The local media insist that the surface will continue to get even better for batting but that it is likely to take (slow) turn on the fifth day. The bounce has been consistent so far. That the unthreatening Chris Gayle bowled seven of 41 second-innings overs shows clearly that Ramdin understands he may need to try a lot of things to bowl the visitors out for a second time.

Thursday and Friday are public holidays in Trinidad so it would be very disappointing if a good crowd does not turn up in the Posse stand for what is set up to be a highly entertaining Test match. The facilities are generally basic here but there are screens showing the Football World Cup in the stands so fans don't have to miss a moment of the kick-about either.

<b>Nick Sadlier at Queen's Park Oval</b>

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