Bridgetown (Barbados), June 29 (IANS/CMC): Kane Williamson's unbeaten half-century kept New Zealand afloat after the two key strikes by fast bowler Kemar Roach threatened to derail the innings as West Indies made critical strides towards winning the decisive third Test here on Saturday.
The obdurate right-hander was unbeaten on 58 at the close of the third day, an innings that carried the Black Caps to 123 for three at the close at Kensington Oval - a lead of 99 heading into the penultimate day.
He was partnered by captain Brendon McCullum on 23, with the pair having so far added 55 for the fourth wicket.
Earlier, Kirk Edwards got 58, captain Denesh Ramdin stroked 45 and Jason Holder a polished 38 as West Indies were dismissed for 317 at tea, to take a narrow 24-run lead.
They were perched on 240 for five at lunch after resuming at 169 for two but lost their last five wickets for 77 runs as left-arm seamer Neil Wagner snatched four for 64 and, with fellow pacers Jimmy Neesham (2-12) and Trent Boult (2-71), undermined the innings.
Roach then set New Zealand back when he claimed the in-form opener Tom Latham in the second over of the innings, caught at short mid-wicket without scoring, miscuing a pull at a short ball with a single run on the board.
Williamson then anchored the first of two half-century partnerships, adding 55 for the second wicket with Hamish Rutherford, who scored 19.
The right-handed Williamson has so far faced 101 balls, batted 2-1/2 hours and hit 11 fours, while Rutherford, who never suggested a permanence, lasted 39 balls and 73 minutes and struck two fours.
Williamson got off the mark with a boundary past slip off Roach's second over and proceeded to capitalise on the scoring opportunities provided.
He escaped with edged boundaries in Roach's next over, to punch fast bowler Jerome Taylor to the straight boundary and follow up with a pull to the backward point boundary, in the bowler's sixth over.
Rutherford enjoyed little of this enterprise and was Roach's second wicket, caught behind by wicket-keeper Ramdin 40 minutes before the close.
Pacer Holder then reduced New Zealand to 68 for three, when he had Ross Taylor caught by Darren Bravo at second slip for six in his first over, picking up his first Test wicket.
However, McCullum, searching for his first meaningful score of the series, held up the Windies advance in partnership with Williamson.
Windies pegged back by Neil Wagner:
Earlier, West Indies made good progress through Edwards and Darren Bravo, who made 24, as the pair pushed their third-wicket stand to 44 before being separated.
Edwards started the morning slowly but flicked Wagner for four in the morning's seventh over to move to 47, before punching seamer Trent Boult through cover to reach his fifty.
Bravo as usual played with freedom, with a streaky boundary off pacer Tim Southee in the day's fourth over before driving Wagner uppishly through cover for another four in the next over.
He lifted Wagner over cover again but then drove at the bowler one too many times and sliced to Williamson at gully, on the stroke of the hour mark, at 197 for three
Half an hour later with eight runs added, Edwards followed trying to flick Southee over mid-wicket but only succeeding in getting a leading edge to mid-on where Rutherford pedalled back to take the catch.
He faced 111 balls in 166 minutes, striking six fours and a six.
The hosts then suffered a huge blow on the stroke of lunch when veteran left-hander Shiv Chanderpaul was caught at the wicket for 15 off Wagner, ending a promising 35-run, fifth-wicket stand with Ramdin.
Ramdin and Holder added 37 for the sixth wicket after lunch, and it seemed then as if West Indies would carve out a bigger first innings lead.
The right-handed Ramdin faced 70 balls in 1-1/2 hours at the crease and struck eight fours, while Holder scores four fours in an innings lasting 76 balls and 113 minutes.
Ramdin got going after the break with a flowing cover drive for four off off-spinner Mark Craig and then slashed Wagner through gully for another boundary in the following over.
He took two more boundaries off Craig to move into the 40s but then played all around a straight one from Boult and was given lbw. Not even a review could save him.
With no runs added, ten balls later, Roach was taken by wicketkeeper BJ Watling diving one-handed to his right off Boult, leaving the Windies on 277 for seven.
Holder then took charge in a pleasant innings, adding 36 with Shane Shillingford, who finished on ten not out.
Showing a penchant for the drive, Holder stroked Wagner past mid-on for his first boundary before cover-driving Boult for another to take West Indies past 300. He punched Neesham impressively through cover but then, with the runs having dried up, gloved a pull behind to Watling 15 minutes before tea.
The end came swiftly for the Windies as Sulieman Benn lost his off-stump to Wagner for one before Jerome Taylor was yorked by Neesham, also for one, off the first ball of the next over.
New Zealand: 293 (Jimmy Neesham 78, Mark Craig 46 not out, Ross Taylor 45, Kane Williamson 43, Brendon McCullum 31; Sulieman Benn 5/93, Kemar Roach 4/61) and 123 for three (Kane Williamson 58 not out, Brendon McCullum 23 not out; Kemar Roach 2/30)
West Indies: 317 (Kraigg Brathwaite 68, Kirk Edwards 58, Denesh Ramdin 45, Chris Gayle 42, Jason Holder 38; Neil Wagner 4/64, Jimmy Neesham 2/12, Trent Boult 2/71)