Black Caps Peaking Nicely

… an excellent effort by our guys to manufacture a win from nowhere. New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum

An unlikely test win

By Roger Childs

Black CapsThe Black Caps were 135 runs behind on the first innings in the second test against Sri Lanka. A year or two ago, this was the common scenario for a big loss. New Zealand might perhaps get two or three hundred in the second innings giving the opposition an easy target to take the victory. At 5/159 the Black Caps seemed to be playing to that script, but then Kane Williamson, who has scored the only 50 in the first innings, was joined by wicket keeper B J Watling. Their record partnership would be the turning point local fans were hoping for.

A record partnership

Williamson should have been dismissed on day three when he gave two chances that were not taken. Catches win matches and the Sri Lankans would be made to suffer for the spills.

On day four Williamson and Watling would bat for all but half an hour of the scheduled play and enter the record books.

Black Caps ww ~ An unbroken record stand of 365 for the sixth wicket for New Zealand

~ A world record for all tests for the sixth wicket

~ Williamson getting a career best of 242

~ Williamson reaching 3000 test runs in 71 innings beating the legendary Martin Crowe’s record of 73.

However the crucial aspect of the partnership was that it was for the team. Instead of staring down the barrel of defeat, Williamson and Watling had saved the game for the Black Caps and built up a 389 run lead. After snaring a quick wicket late on day four, New Zealand were in the box seat with a day to play.

Winning in style

SangakkaraThe big obstacle to taking a second win in the series was Kumar Sangakkara. The Sri Lankan captain had been the hero of the first innings with his eleventh test double century.

He was dismissed for 5 caught behind off Trent Boult. Given “not out” by the umpire McCullum asked for a technological look at Sangakkara attempted drive outside the off stump. The SNICKO monitor indicated that the ball had grazed the underside of his bat on the way through and this was reinforced by a sound being recorded by HOT SPOT. The danger man was gone.

Wickets fell regularly during the afternoon and when Tim Southee clean bowled Nawan Pradeep for 1, the Black Caps had an unexpected win by 193 runs.

Not surprisingly Kane Williamson was player of the match having scored 311 runs for once out and taking two excellent catches in the second innings.

Captain McCullum played tribute to his star match-winning batsman: Kane is a phenomenal talent… he’s a level-headed guy and thinks first and foremost about the team.

The World Cup prize beckons

All eyes are now on the World Cup Cricket ODI tournament which starts in Christchurch in 37 days. There are one day matches still to come against Sri Lanka before mid February, however the World Cup is the big prize.

The final Blacks Caps squad for the 2015 tournament is due to be announced shortly. The selectors have wealth of talent to choose from and there are five fast bowlers in the reckoning, one of whom will miss out.

Martin Crowe 1992It was back in 1992 that Australia and New Zealand last hosted the event and the New Zealanders played very well in the round-robin play. Captain Martin Crowe was in imperious form and took the team into the semi final against Pakistan. Tragically Crowe pulled a hamstring while batting and the captaincy fell to the inexperienced John Wright. The new skipper didn’t manage the bowlers well and Pakistan won with 6 balls to spare.

This time around it is also going to be very competitive. The home advantage is helpful, however teams like Australia, South Africa, India and Pakistan will be tough to beat. One thing is assured: there will be some great live TV.