Batsman Williamson cracks century to give NZ strong start
KANE Williamson struck a patient 105 not out as New Zealand made use of a flat batting pitch to compile 240-2 at the end of day one in the opening Test match against the West Indies yesterday at Sabina Park in Kingston.
Score: New Zealand 240-2 (92 overs).
The left-handed opener Tom Latham, playing in his second Test, supported with a stubborn 83 in a 165-run stand with Williamson for the second wicket.
Middle-order batsman Ross Taylor, not out on 34, will partner Williamson when play resumes today at 10:00 am.
Pacer Jerome Taylor, returning to Test cricket after an absence dating back to November 2009, took 1-22 off 17 probing overs, while off-spinner Shane Shillingford had 1-62 off 24.
Taylor aside, the West Indies bowlers were hardly better than steady on the docile surface, and let the Kiwis off the hook with some loose deliveries in the afternoon, which saw 100 runs coming between the lunch and tea breaks.
"We're in a good position... so hopefully we can come out tomorrow and push the advantage. I think we played the spinners really well [though] they bowled in pretty good areas. The partnership between Kane and I was crucial in setting the day up," the 22-year-old Latham told reporters at the press conference after close of play.
Earlier New Zealand won the toss and opted to bat on a bare pitch, a far cry from the grassy one seen days ahead of the match.
The visiting team's decision left regional cricket fans to wait to see local hero Christopher Gayle bat in his 100th Test.
With only nine runs on the board for New Zealand, the crafty Taylor dismissed opener Peter Fulton.
The 29-year-old pacer pitched a delivery just outside off-stump and lured Fulton into a tentative poke and a slight shape away from the batsman induced an edge for captain and wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin to take the catch behind the stumps.
New Zealand recovered, however, through the partnership between Williamson and Latham.
The left-handed Latham, batting in only his third innings of Test cricket, did have a couple of anxious moments.
On 28, he was given out caught under the bat to lanky left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn, but the batsman's instant signal to review the decision eventually proved the standing umpire was wrong.
When Latham had added a further 11 runs to his score, he was again reprieved.
This time, he was caught at a deep-ish gully position by Marlon Samuels off Taylor's delivery, but just as the left-hander was walking off, the umpires' no-ball review showed that the bowler had marginally over-stepped.
Outside of those instances, Latham was solid, biding his time and picking off the bad deliveries when they came. He notched 10 fours off 206 deliveries before he went in tame fashion, offering an easy return catch to Shillingford off a leading edge.
Williamson, 23, was even more impressive in his knock, displaying compact defence in between a handful of pleasant, well-timed shots.
He was stuck on 93 for over half an hour before nudging a single off Taylor and then unleashing two sweet late cuts off Benn to bring up his sixth Test century. He stroked 11 boundaries off 263 balls.