BLACKCAPS well placed in Test

The BLACKCAPS again saw off Brian Lara cheaply as they enjoyed a productive but shortened third day of the second National Bank Test against the West Indies in Wellington.

Nathan Astle removed Brian Lara for one, another disappointing innings by the world record holder as the tourists ended the day on 118 for four after bad light finished play three overs into the evening session.

That left the visitors 62 runs, with six wickets in hand, to force the BLACKCAPS to bat again. Should they claim victory, the Kiwis would boast a record fifth successive Test victory.

West Indian captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul (18) and Dwayne Bravo (2) were the not-out batsmen.

Earlier, the BLACKCAPS were dismissed for 372, earning a healthy 180-run advantage.

Astle was removed by Daren Powell having failed to add to his overnight score of 65 as Fidel Edwards took the last two wickets to claim five for 65 from the innings.

James Franklin was unbeaten on 28, having made 37 for the penultimate wicket with Kyle Mills (10).

Edwards took Mills and Chris Martin in successive balls and remains poised for a hat-trick should the hosts have to bat again.

Chris Gayle and Daren Ganga (23) again looked threatening as an opening duo, but their stand was broken at 54, with an outside edge by Ganga off Martin into the hands of Brendon McCullum.

Runako Morton went three overs later, for seven, via the tried and tested combination of Franklin and slip fielder supreme Stephen Fleming.

And a bigger scalp came moments later, when Lara’s poor run continued, Astle taking him for just one run after a good diving catch by Marshall at point to the left-hander.

Daniel Vettori removed Gayle lbw after a determined 68 from 145 balls just before tea.

Vettori had assumed the captaincy after Fleming was taken to hospital with a hand injury. But the skipper - who has taken five catches in the match so far - was passed fit to play following an x-ray.

The vice-captain’s tenure did not last long, though, as the West Indies were offered the light and took it.

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