WELLINGTON: New Zealand shot to the top of the world Test rankings Monday when they thrashed the West Indies by an innings and 12 runs to wrap up an emphatic series win.
It lifted the Black Caps to 116 points, equal with Australia at the head of the rankings table, and also extended their unbeaten home run to 15 Tests.
New Zealand also stayed in the hunt for the inaugural World Test Championship final as they overtook England to move into third in the standings behind Australia and India, who start a four-Test series this week.
“It does sound pretty cool,” said Tom Latham, New Zealand’s stand-in captain while Kane Williamson is on paternity leave.
“I didn’t realise that until this morning,” he said of the rankings boost.
“We have been playing some good cricket as of late in our conditions, and away for that matter, and it’s a pretty cool thing.”
After Williamson pulled out on the eve of the second Test, Latham said the team stepped up with Henry Nicholls overcoming a form slump to score 174 and lay the foundations of the victory.
Kyle Jamieson, in only his fourth Test, took five wickets in the first innings and two in the second to be man of the series.
Tim Southee took seven in the Test. New Zealand also won the first Test in Hamilton by an innings.
“It was great for our squad that we do have depth where guys can come in and perform straight away,” Latham said.
But it was a disappointing tour for the West Indies, with both Tests ending on the fourth morning. They have now lost four in a row since beating England in Southampton in July.
‘Not good enough’
Captain Jason Holder said they only had themselves to blame.
“It’s just tough when we didn’t take our opportunities when they came. We were good in patches but still not good enough,” he said.
“I don’t think conditions were that tough in order to get runs. The wicket was a really good wicket.
“We’ve just not been consistent over a period of time. We haven’t been able to string it together, more often than not.”
After losing the first Test in New Zealand by an innings and 134 runs, and being rolled for 131 in the first innings of the second Test, they saved their best for their final bat on tour, scoring 317 all out in their second innings.
The tourists resumed the day at 244 for six, needing a further 85 runs to make New Zealand bat again and with Jason Holder on 60 and Joshua da Silva on 25.
Holder added one to his overnight 60 before he was bowled by Tim Southee, who also had Alzarri Joseph caught behind after an entertaining 24 — all from boundaries.
Da Silva marked his maiden Test with a half-century but on 57 he fell lbw to Neil Wagner, who also bowled Shannon Gabriel without scoring to leave Chemar Holder not out 13.
For New Zealand, Wagner took three for 54 and Trent Boult finished with three for 96.
Despite winning the toss and having the advantage of bowling first on green wickets in both Tests, the West Indies bowlers struggled for consistency and their batsmen lacked the variety of shot selection to handle New Zealand’s swing and seam attack.
The top five West Indies batsmen totalled only 267 across their four Test innings, just 16 more than New Zealand maestro Williamson scored on his own in the first Test.
Even with Williamson out for the second Test, New Zealand were still able to post 460 as Nicholls shrugged off a batting slump to contribute his 174, aided by five dropped catches.
John Campbell’s 68 in the second innings of the final Test was the best contribution by the West Indies’ top order.
Their highest scores of the series came from Jermaine Blackwood (104) and Alzarri Joseph (89) batting at six and eight in a lost-cause second innings of the first Test.
New Zealand start a two-Test series against Pakistan on December 26 and will need another series sweep to be in with a chance of reaching the Test championship final.