New Zealand would have been buoyed by their performance in the first Test against West Indies at Jamaica, which would have given them a lot of confidence as they headed into the Port of Spain Test. But sometimes, it takes just one Test for the fortunes to swing, and New Zealand experienced the same as they went down to West Indies, and leave the series 1-1 as they head into Bridgetown for the decider. New Zealand have only themselves to blame as they failed to build on the gains from the opening Test, and now find themselves under pressure.
There a number of reasons for New Zealand’s defeat at Port of Spain, but the chief among them was definitely their first innings failure after deciding to bat first. They managed only 221 batting first. A team finds it very difficult to recover from that situation, and this is what New Zealand experienced at Trinidad. Opener Tom Latham was the only batsman who made a score of note for the side. Kane Williamson got 42, but could not carry on. Ross Taylor was unbeaten on 45, but did not get any support from the rest of the batting order. Six of the Kiwi batsmen were dismissed for single-figure scores.
New Zealand could still have made a match of it had they bowled well in their first innings, but even that did not happen. They allowed West Indies to get away, and recover from a poor start, after which New Zealand were never in the game. West Indies built a healthy first-innings lead, and took the game away from there. Had New Zealand kept West Indies down to 300 in the first innings, the match would have been wide open. But, once the hosts crossed 450, it was always going to be one-way traffic.
Two of New Zealand’s bowlers, Trent Boult and Ish Sodhi finished with seven wickets between themselves in 50 overs, but the rest did not contribute, which enabled West Indies to get away to build a big total. Tim Southee delivered 30 overs, but finished with only one wicket; more was expected of him as a strike bowler. Mark Craig did not pick up a single wicket and gave away over 100 runs. Jimmy Neesham also failed to make an impression this time, as a result of which New Zealand could not build any sort of pressure on the West Indies batting.
The Kiwis batted better a second time round, managing 331. However, it was a case of too little too late. Again, a number of their batsmen got starts, but did not carry on. Williamson fell immediately after crossing his half-century, Taylor and Latham were dismissed in their 30s, and BJ Watling battled hard for his half-century, but only found support down at number 10 in Mark Craig. In the end, the lack of runs from their batsmen in the first innings came back to haunt them.
--By A Cricket Analyst