Bridgetown (Barbados), June 27 (IANS/CMC) Combative left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn wrecked New Zealand’s middle order, to give West Indies the advantage at tea on the opening day of the decisive third Test at Kensington Oval here Thursday.
The six-foot, seven-inch bowler snatched four of the five wickets to fall after lunch as New Zealand battled to tea at 217 for seven, reports CMC.
Attacking lower order batsman Jimmy Neesham was leading the fightback with an unbeaten 56 and was partnered by Mark Craig on ten.
Benn, who has taken four for 68, extracted bounce and turn from the Oval pitch and struck at regular intervals, leaving the Black Caps unable to build major partnerships.
He struck in the third over after lunch with New Zealand having just added seven to their lunch time position of 95 for two, when he removed Kane Williamson for 43, caught by Chris Gayle at slip as the right-hander stabbed at one that bounced.
Williamson added just three to his lunch time 40.
Twenty deliveries later, Benn pulled off a stunning catch at gully, diving to his right to pull off a one-handed catch to send back Ross Taylor for 45, off the bowling of seamer Kemar Roach.
With New Zealand tottering on 114 for four, Neesham and captain Brendon McCullum came together in a fifth wicket stand of 54, which arrested the slide.
The left-handed Neesham has faced 64 balls and struck seven fours and a six – a clean blow over wide long-on off seamer Jerome Taylor.
Neesham was off the mark with a streaky boundary past slip off Benn but blossomed to play confidently especially against the seamers.
He flicked Roach off his pads for four before steering Taylor to the third man boundary and driving the same bowler crisply through mid-off for another four in the same over. He reached his half-century in the fourth over before tea, with three to third man off Benn.
McCullum, meanwhile, faced 30 balls and struck five fours — three of which came in a poor over from Roach. The first two boundaries were hustled through point while the third was clipped through mid-wicket.
However, he became Benn’s third wicket, attempting to turn one that bounced into the leg-side and top-edging a catch to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin.
New batsman B.J. Watling made just one before falling in Benn’s next over, caught at slip by Gayle as he pushed forward defensively.
Roach has so far supported well with three for 53.