There was good news, bad news and better news for the West Indies when they won the toss Friday and sent New Zealand in on the first day of the second cricket test at the Basin Reserve.
The good news was that captain Jason Holder was able to enjoy with his fellow bowlers first use of a green pitch which assisted quicks, providing seam and bounce.
The bad news was Holder had to subject his teammates to a day at the mercy of a buffeting wind gusting to 120kmh (75 mph), which made bowling challenging and fielding uncomfortable.
The better news was that at lunch New Zealand had lost Tom Blundell, Tom Latham and Ross Taylor and was 82-3.
Shannon Gabriel, in his 50th test match, gave Holder and the West Indies an early reward when he bowled Blundell for 14 in the seventh over. Blundell’s was a prized wicket as he made a century on debut against the West Indies at the Basin Reserve three years ago.
The West Indies named wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva and fast bowler Chemar Holder to make their test debuts and they combined to dismiss New Zealand captain Latham for 27 in the 18th over. Holder, bowling into the gale, angled a delivery into Latham from around the wicket, found a length that forced Latham to play and caught the outside edge.
Taylor had a torrid time at the hands of Gabriel and Chemar Holder, being struck several times on the body or beaten by seaming deliveries. He was tentative when he pushed forward to a ball from Gabriel 10 minutes before lunch and was caught by da Silva for 9.
A full length proved most rewarding in the first session. While the pitch is green, it has also been covered for much of the week during heavy rain in Wellington. It will likely harden and become a little faster as the match goes on.
There was some bounce on the first morning but the West Indies bowlers hesitated to overuse the short ball. They did best when they pitched up and forced the batsman to play. The ball moved sharply off the seam, notably in Blundell’s case when it ducked back between bat and pad.
The Basin Reserve is one of New Zealand’s best batting pitches and even early on Latham and Blundell were able to play with confidence in the true nature of the surface.
Latham is leading New Zealand in the match in the absence of Kane Williamson, who has left the team to be with his wife who is expecting their first child. In Williamson’s absence Blundell moved up to order to open with Latham. Will Young, who opened on debut in the first test at Hamilton, dropped into Williamson’s spot at No. 3.
Williamson’s loss is a major one for New Zealand. His career-best 251 set up New Zealand’s win in the first test by an innings and 134.
New Zealand made 519-7 and only had to bat once.
Da Silva made his test debut in place of Shane Dowrich who is injured and Chemar Holder in place of Kemar Roach, who has returned home after the death of his father.
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