"--IANS/CMC"
Bridgetown (Barbados), June 28 (IANS/CMC) Opener Kraigg Brathwaite said he was now playing with a renewed confidence following his maiden Test century last week.

Friday, he top scored with an attractive 68 to follow up that 129 in Port-of-Spain, as West Indies reached 169 for two before rain ended the second day's play at 1:03 pm, in the decisive third Test against New Zealand, reports CMC.

He faced 116 balls in just under 2-1/2 hours at the crease and counted ten fours before falling ten minutes to lunch when he drove seamer Neil Wagner loosely to cover.

Obviously batting with Chris (Gayle), he was going after the bowling quite early, I decided just to stick with him and rotate the strike as well as possible, Brathwaite said.

Early on I started quite slowly but at the end I got a couple of boundaries and it worked out. I got to fifty quite quickly and it put the team in a good position so I am quite happy. I would have liked to go on but that's all part of the game.

Known for his unflappable temperament and quiet accumulation of runs, Brathwaite was unusually aggressive, and seemed intent on capitalising on scoring opportunities.

He reached his fifty with the second of two fours off left-arm seamer Trent Boult's ninth over, and then punched off-spinner Mark Craig crisply through cover for four before pulling him behind square for another.

The ball was not swinging as much and the pitch was good-paced so you just backed yourself to go straight. With the ball not swinging, it was ok to hit the ball square once you covered it, Brathwaite explained.

I've worked on this shot because obviously as an opener you will get a lot of cuts. The hundred [in the last Test] gave me a lot of confidence and I am looking to move forward and give 110 per cent every time.

However, he was forced to play second fiddle to partner Gayle early in the day as the experienced left-hander dominated a stand of 79.

Gayle cracked 42 from just 53 deliveries, with six fours and a six.

Obviously it's an honour for me [to bat with Gayle] because as a little boy I watched Gayle play. He's aggressive so he may ease some of the pressure off me but you still have to work hard because the bowlers will still come at him hard and then come at you hard, Brathwaite said.

It is about being focussed because sometimes it's not easy. With him hitting boundaries you may try to hit some as well but it's all about knowing your game and just going out there and doing what you know you can do.

--IANS/CMC

vs/sd


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