Bridgetown: New Zealand were pressing for a series-clinching victory with the West Indies struggling at 72 for three after being set a victory target of 308 when rain brought an early end to play before lunch on the last day of the third and final Test at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Monday.
Mindful of the unsettled weather that has already significantly affected the match, Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum declared at his team`s overnight second innings total of 331 for seven to give his bowlers as much time as possible to take the 10 wickets needed to pull off only their second series triumph in the Caribbean.
West Indies would have also entertained the thought of chasing down the daunting target. However those hopes almost disappeared completely when the New Zealand opening bowlers removed the first three batsmen in the space of 10 overs.
Left-arm swing bowler Trent Boult struck the first two blows for the visitors. Kraigg Braithwaite misjudged the line of an inswinging delivery and had his off-stump knocked back to give New Zealand the perfect start.
In the same over, the third of the innings, new batsman Kirk Edwards was ruled leg-before offering no shot. However to his relief, the decision was overturned on review of the television replays. He never suggested permanence though and after edging between second and third slip for a boundary, Edwards finally succumbed to Boult, one more edge being well taken at first slip by Ross Taylor.
Chris Gayle, who has been troubled by a back injury and struggled to find his best form in the series, was next to go, bowled for 11 off the inside-edge as he aimed a big drive at Tim Southee.
At 31 for three, West Indies were in danger of being steamrolled by the rampant New Zealanders. But Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Darren Bravo held firm together in a partnership that gives the home side and their fans hope that the regional team, with a little help from the weather, may be able to escape with a draw.
Chanderpaul will resume on 23 and Bravo on 22.