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Toon Up: Black-hat batsman Henry Nichols celebrates the 6th Century of the Test with the help of Daryl Mitchell.
When Henry Nichols peered out of the Basin Reserve players’ pavilion and saw West Indies captain Jason Holder win the coin toss, he knew a hot day was in the store.
Adding to the stunning heart-wrenching, Black Caps No.5 have failed to pass 50 in 13 Test rounds since scoring their fifth Test Century, against Bangladesh in March last year. This was also the 99th and latest test in the spiritual home of New Zealand cricket.
Seven hours later when the logs were pulled out on the first day of the second test in Wellington, Nichols was still standing, taking a few punches, shattering his luck and shooting a few times.
Henry Nichols struggled early, was fortunate to drop hits but thrived late en route to 117 unbeaten.
The left-handed man did not emerge under the most pressure of anyone in the New Zealand 117 striking squad in the 15 minutes five hours earlier, and his team endured some challenging assignments to close on top at 294-6.
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In front of the second new ball looms on a big Saturday morning, but if Nichols can counterattack and find Kyle Jamison and Tim South in the middle, the total of nearly 400 would be an impressive recovery. It is already the highest of the first rounds in the last six Aquarium Tests.
While none of his top six teammates was able to pass 50 with the ball jumping off the deck, Nichols stood tall and punished some terrible field mistakes in the West Indies. Letting go of his short leg early, skating one in the clear air, tied one to six away from the frontier racer, then the two big masters: he fell to 47, twice, by Darren Bravo on the first slip.
“You’re just trying to get away from them, like when you hit a limit or something.” Nichols said of his good fortune: “It’s hitting, it’s cricket, it’s so volatile, so you have to focus on what you’re doing and try to get the bowlers back for more. Of spells. “
Being a good test cricketer takes a lot of skill, patience, and a heavy dose of luck. Nichols knew he needed to run, even if coach Gary Steed gave him a public vote of confidence.
He reached 78-3 after reserve captain Tom Latham received a painful blow to the forearm and Ross Taylor was injured multiple times and then sent on his way by Shannon Gabriel. He and Will Young, 43, are left, in his second experimental roles, to confront the music and fight through it.
“I do my best when I play with such confidence but after lunch there was a crazy period where Will said he was having a lot of difficulty and I was able to score but also had a hard time.
“Sometimes on that kind of surface it can ebb and flow a lot. For me, that’s the positive intention and I look forward to putting my bowlers under pressure in ways that are effective for me.”
This meant knocking the short ball, as it did so well in the unforgettable century of the basin against South Africa in 2017, punishing anything broad and ignored when the ledges flew wide. Meanwhile, Young was alarmed by the amazing one-handed hunting of the captain.
Nichols raised his sixth test century in a strange way as well, trying to turn the ball into a man while the advanced edge passed the point. However, as the crowd of 3,583 rose around 6 p.m., each round was counted while raising its stained bat’s handle in honor of seven-year-old cancer patient Holly Beatty.
“There is definitely a faster wicket than usual here. When they get the right lengths it was tough. This is something bowlers will look forward to and hopefully they keep the pace and bounce in it throughout the test match which will be good for us.”
Daryl Mitchell also showed his value with a 42nd quick fire to ensure the late momentum of the hosts.
The last time the Black Caps first fought and won a pelvic test against Sri Lanka was in 2015, when Ken Williamson (absent from that test on Kids’ Watch) robbed 242.
For the West Indies, it was a much improved effort on a grassy surface similar to Hamilton which they used better despite the annoying northern storm.
Gabriel was menacing and newcomer Chamar Holder is going through his moments, but they will regret the missed opportunities that were the difference between the logs result and the owners struggled to reach 250.
Joshua da Silva, another West Indies apprentice, said, “This is how it works, always frustrated when the catch is dropped but you have to look forward to the next one. Just go ahead and try to get them again.”
“Good roles, he is [Nicholls] He played a good hand and had few chances. You need a little bit of luck in cricket as everyone knows. He got there at the end and that’s all that matters. “