DUNEDIN, New Zealand -- West Indies endured a rough baptism, when Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor hit hundreds to break their drought and give New Zealand’s summer of cricket the best possible start in the first Test on Tuesday.
The Windies were hamstrung by a docile University Oval pitch and their own wayward bowling, and had no response, as current captain McCullum with an undefeated 109 and former captain Taylor with an unbeaten 103 propelled the New Zealanders to 367 for three at the close on the opening day, after they were sent in to bat.
None of the visitors’ bowlers could exert significant pressure, as McCullum hit his seventh Test hundred and Taylor followed suit with his ninth Test century, putting on 182 – unbroken – for the fourth wicket and scoring at close to five runs an over in a stroke-filled conclusion to the day.
Off-spinner Shane Shillingford was expected to be one of the main weapons for West Indies, but he was the target of much of McCullum’s punishment and was driven to long-on for a single to take McCullum to 100 from 101 balls. It was the New Zealand captain’s first hundred in 47 innings in 26 Tests spread over three years.
Tino Best bowled with typical passion, but Taylor flicked him to deep fine leg for his 13th boundary to bring up his 100 from 150 balls. It was his first hundred in 14 innings in nine Tests since he lost the New Zealand captaincy last year in Sri Lanka.
Greeted by a green pitch, chilly temperatures and overcast skies, the Windies chose to field, but they soon had enough evidence to suggest that they may have read the conditions incorrectly, when the new-ball pair of Best and Shannon Gabriel failed to extract little or no vertical or lateral movement in their opening spells.
As a consequence, the Caribbean side were under pressure early, when Hamish Rutherford set the tone for New Zealand with 62 and fellow opener Peter Fulton made 61, sharing 95 for the first wicket, as the Black Caps reached 100 for one at lunch.
Shillingford, under pressure after undergoing testing in Perth in neighbouring Australia for a suspect bowling action, gave the Caribbean side the initial breakthrough.
The lanky off-spinner had suffered, when Rutherford thumped him for a six and a four over long-on in his third over, but he gained revenge in his following over, when the left-handed opener tried to clear the air space in the same direction and a wrong-footed Narsingh Deonarine held a right-handed catch, running backwards.
West had toiled effortlessly for most of the morning period, as the two openers indulged themselves, capitalising on a succession of over-pitched deliveries to gather a number of leg-side fours.
Before Shillingford struck, West Indies captain Darren Sammy, bowling his steady medium-pace, came closest to capturing a wicket, when Fulton, on 16, edged through a vacant third slip for his fifth four.
Sammy was guilty of straying in line and length, when Rutherford cut a short delivery outside the off-stump through square cover for his ninth boundary to reach his 50 from 60 deliveries before he was dismissed about five minutes before lunch.
After lunch, Best and Sammy each grabbed a wicket to brighten West Indies’ spirit, as New Zealand reached 194 for three at tea.
Best bowled steadily in a seven-over burst immediately after the interval, when he and Shillingford built-up a bit of pressure on Fulton and Aaron Redmond.
The effervescent West Indies fast bowler benefitted from his hard work, when Redmond tried to play a leg-cutter into the leg-side and was caught at gully for 20 from a leading edge, leaving New Zealand 117 for two.
West Indies however, met resistance, when Taylor joined Fulton and they pounced on a number of loose deliveries, especially from Gabriel, to put on 68 for the third wicket in the next 1¼ hours.
Sammy for the second time in the day was the suffering bowler, when Fulton carved a delivery to backward point for his ninth four to reach 50 from 118 balls.
Just when it appeared West Indies were on the back-foot, Sammy had Fulton caught at second slip, edging a back-foot drive at a delivery that bounced a little awkwardly and moved away about 15 minutes before tea, setting the stage for McCullum and Taylor.
West Indies included Shillingford as the only frontline spinner in their line-up, leaving out fellow off-spinner Sunil Narine, while Gabriel was preferred ahead of left-arm fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell to share the new ball with Best, and Kirk Edwards will open the batting with Kieran Powell following Kraigg Brathwaite’s delayed departure from the Caribbean due to visa issues.
Leg spinner Ish Sodhi and all-rounder Corey Anderson made their home Test debuts for New Zealand, after playing their first Tests on the recent tour of Bangladesh.
Hometown batsman Redmond will also play his first Test in front of a home crowd after playing his previous Test five years ago in Australia.
NEW ZEALAND 1st Innings
P. Fulton c Edwards b Sammy 61
H. Rutherford c Deonarine b Shillingford 62
A. Redmond c Samuels b Best 20
R. Taylor not out 103
*B. McCullum not out 109
Extras b4, (lb7, nb1) 12
TOTAL (3 wkts) 367
C. Anderson, +B.J. Watling, I. Sodhi, T. Southee, N. Wagner, T. Boult to bat
Fall of wickets: 1-95 (Rutherford), 2-117 (Redmond), 3-185 (Fulton)
Bowling: Best 21-4-87-1; Gabriel 17-3-98-0; Sammy 18-3-68-1 (nb1); Shillingford 28-5-88-1; Deonarine 6-0-15-0
WEST INDIES: K. Powell, K. Edwards, D.M. Bravo, M. Samuels, S. Chanderpaul, N. Deonarine, +D. Ramdin, *D. Sammy, S. Shillingford, T. Best, S. Gabriel
Toss: West Indies
Umpires: I. Gould (England), P. Reiffel (Australia)
TV umpire: N. Llong (England)
Match referee: R. Mahanama (Sri Lanka)
Reserve umpire: C. Gaffaney (New Zealand)