Neil Wagner’s bouncer barrage leaves West Indies in tatters | Cricket



Lunch West Indies 221 and 106 for 5 (Chase 32*, Wagner 2-27, Boult 2-38) need another 338 runs to beat New Zealand373 and 291 for 8 dec (Taylor 107*, Williamson 54, Cummins 3-69)
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New Zealand’s pacers set the Hamilton Test on track for a day-four conclusion – Neil Wagner roughing the opposition up, and Trent Boult claiming his 200th wicket – as West Indies slid to 106 for 5, apart from having a batsman retire hurt due to a Wagner-inflicted wrist injury.

It was Wagner’s hostility that left the greatest mark on the morning. He was combative and intense as ever, aided by a Seddon Park track receptive to his mode of operation. A stream of balls were sent at batsmen’s ribs, and many more threatened throats – Wagner clearly taking pleasure in their discomfort. It was immediately after being cover-driven for four by Shai Hope that Wagner’s bodyline barrage began. Next ball, he struck the batsman flush on an unprotected forearm. To follow up, he delivered another bouncer – up near the neck this time – and Hope could not control his hook, which finished up in the hands of long leg.

In the next two overs, Wagner claimed two more victims. He got a ball to rear up off a back-of-a-length and struck Sunil Ambris painfully on the wrist – a blow that required the attention of a physiotherapist. Ambris initially stayed in the middle after receiving the blow, but one more ball from Wagner in the following over – this one at the ribs – was enough to convince him to head for the safety of the dressing room.

Shane Dowrich, the man who replaced Ambris, was one of the only West Indies batsmen to avoid being struck by Wagner, but that is only because he lasted two balls. In fending off another uncomfortable rib-high delivery, Dowrich sent a sharp catch to short leg, who claimed the chance to his right.

Before Wagner had begun, however, it was Boult who made the first breakthrough of the day, prompting a loose shot from Kraigg Brathwaite, who was caught for 20 by Kane Williamson at gully. That dismissal made Boult the sixth New Zealand bowler to 200 Test wickets. He could have had his 201st had he held a difficult, low return chance to his right, off Raymon Riefer, who was on 1 at the time.

By lunch, Riefer was still batting, with Roston Chase accompanying him on 32. They are the last recognised batting pair, though it is possible Ambris will bat again.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando


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