New Zealand built a solid platform on the first day of the first Test against West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, as they finished on 240-2.
In the first Test match action for 95 days—the longest absence of the game’s longest form without being interrupted by a Cricket World Cup—Kane Williamson looked impressive as he finished on 105 not out.
In Denesh Ramdin’s first Test as captain of West Indies, there were recalls for seamer Jerome Taylor and Sulieman Benn, with the latter joining Shane Shillingford in the spin attack.
Meanwhile, the New Zealanders handed a debut to off-spinner Mark Craig, who, alongside Ish Sodhi, formed a dual spin threat on a slow pitch.
Kiwis captain Brendon McCullum won the toss and chose to bat first, with New Zealand openers Peter Fulton and Tom Latham getting things underway.
Taylor made the first breakthrough, as he forced an edge from Fulton when he had made just one, with the catch taken by Ramdin behind the stumps to leave New Zealand at 9-1.
Latham was joined by Williamson, and the pair then focused on defending in what was a tricky period for the visitors.
Benn, playing his first Test since December 2010, was able to find some extra turn and bounce with his left-arm spin, while Shillingford and Marlon Samuels also found plenty on offer.
New Zealand went to lunch on 62-1, with Latham on 37 not out and Williamson unbeaten on 17.
In the first over after lunch, the hosts thought they had Latham after he edged to gully off the bowling of Taylor while on 39.
However, the bowler’s foot was marginally in front of the line, so his delivery was ruled a no ball and Latham survived.
Despite Benn and Shillingford still gaining plenty of turn and bounce, the New Zealand opener went on to complete his half-century.
Latham would finish the session unbeaten on 75, while at the other end, Williamson recovered from a slow start to add to his run tally from the No. 3 position.
It took the right-hander 84 balls to hit his first boundary, then after that he was keen to use his feet and the sweep shot regularly as the home side started to err.
Williamson also went on to reach his fifty before tea and finished the session on 79 not out, with his side 164-1 and looking firmly in control.
The evening session exploded into life almost immediately as Shillingford caught and bowled Latham for 83.
That brought Ross Taylor to the crease, and like those before him, he also started cautiously on the slow pitch.
At the other end, Williamson was continuing to cope well with the turn and bounce on offer while punishing any bad balls that came along.
The hosts took the new ball in the 85th over but saw Kemar Roach’s first over with it disappear for 12, as New Zealand started to push their run rate along at the end of the day.
Williamson would go on to complete his century in the penultimate over of the day—his sixth in Tests—while Taylor finished on 34 not out.
For the home side, it was a tough start, as they could not capitalise on New Zealand’s slow run rate and did not manage to create many openings with their legion of spinners.
The visitors meanwhile will be greatly encouraged, and with Williamson and Taylor to resume play tomorrow, they will be confident of reaching a big score.