Joshua da Silva’s debut half-century gave West Indies a positive takeaway from a difficult tour
New Zealand 460 (Nicholls 174, Wagner 66, Gabriel 3-93, Joseph 3-109) beat West Indies 131 (Blackwood 69, Southee 5-32, Jamieson 5-34) and (f/0) 317 (Campbell 68, Jason Holder 61, da Silva 57, Wagner 3-54, Boult 3-96) by an innings and 11 runs
Tim Southee and Neil Wagner picked up two lower-order wickets apiece as New Zealand completed a 2-0 series sweep over West Indies, the hosts taking just 13.3 overs on the fourth morning to wrap up their second successive innings win. The win enabled New Zealand to take a full 120 points from this series to strengthen their chances of making the World Test Championship final at Lord’s.*
West Indies, who began the day trailing by 85, came within 11 runs of making New Zealand bat again. Southee ended any hopes of a miraculous West Indies comeback when he straightened one past Jason Holder’s defensive bat to knock back his off stump in the first full over of the morning, but there were positives for the visitors to take back from the final day of their tour, courtesy a debut half-century from Joshua da Silva and some breezy hitting from Alzarri Joseph.
Da Silva looked organised while defending off either foot, and was alert to any scoring possibilities, be they off drives, clips off his legs, or most impressively while pouncing onto the short ball to pull. Given how comfortable he looked against a quality attack, it seems likely he’ll retain his place even when the regular wicketkeeper, Shane Dowrich, returns.
Joseph, meanwhile, followed up his second-innings 86 in Hamilton with an 18-ball 24 that contained two pulled sixes and three fours including a stunning straight drive off Southee. He looked like a proper batsman when he played his shots, and if he does a bit more work on his defensive game, West Indies could think of pushing him up to No. 8 and Jason Holder up to No. 7 to allow them to play an extra bowler.
West Indies carried on going after the bowling after Joseph played on to Southee, with Chemar Holder clattering successive fours off Daryl Mitchell, who was brought on with New Zealand waiting for the second new ball.
They didn’t need to take it in the end, with Wagner managing to swing a 77-over-old ball into da Silva to trap him lbw for 57, and finishing the match in his next over by yorking the No. 11 Shannon Gabriel.
*03.05 GMT, December 14: The report had said New Zealand were No. 1 on the rankings after this victory. This has been changed.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo