Dunedin, New Zealand: New Zealand’s Ross Taylor batted for more than eight hours on a bad knee to make an unbeaten 217 as the hosts declared at 609-9 on day two of the first test against the West Indies.
In reply, the West Indies were 67-2 at stumps on Wednesday, having lost openers Kieran Powell (7) and Kirk Edwards (0) to catches behind the wicket.
Darren Bravo was 37 not out and Marlon Samuels 14 not out at stumps while Trent Boult and Tim Southee each had figures of 1-15.
Taylor ignored the patella tendon injury which limited his preparation for New Zealand’s first home test of the summer, compiling the 12th-highest total by a Kiwi in tests.
His 491-minute innings lifted New Zealand to its fourth-highest total in tests, bringing to an end a recent run of mediocre test form.
Taylor eclipsed his previous-highest test score of 154 not out and was the first 200 by a New Zealand in tests since Brendon McCullum’s against India in 2010. It was McCullum who teamed with Taylor on Wednesday in the central partnership of the innings — 195 for the fourth wicket.
McCullum was out for 113 in the fifth over of the day but Taylor led a series of productive partnerships until the declaration came after tea.
He put on 84 for the sixth wicket with B.J. Watling (41), 76 for the eighth wicket with Ish Sodhi (35) and 61 for the ninth wicket with Neil Wagner (37) as New Zealand ground down the West Indies, who had elected to bowl after winning the toss.
Wagner was then part of a New Zealand attack with bowled with more purpose than the West Indies, exploiting what little they could get out of a batsman-friendly pitch.
“It’s going to be tough work,” Wagner said. “It’s flattened out a lot.
“There’s still a bit of inconsistency in bounce there. Some seem to just die a little bit and some seem to take off which makes it difficult for batters. If we can just bash it in on a length and hit the deck hard, hopefully there will be some inconsistent bounce.”
The partnership between Taylor and McCullum was of broader importance than this match alone.
The pair was at the center of a rift in the national team when McCullum was appointed to the national captaincy at Taylor’s expense.
New Zealand fans rallied behind Taylor and McCullum was cast unwillingly as the villain, though he claimed to play no active role in unseating Taylor.
The relationship between them had seemed cool in the ensuing 12 months and McCullum’s task to win over fans was stymied by a run of nine tests without a victory since his promotion.
McCullum had managed only 85 runs in seven innings in his four previous tests and had not scored a test century in three years. He also had to contend with chronic back pain, and the combination of poor form and ill health had led to speculation about his future.
He answered that with the bat by compiling his seventh test century, from only 101 balls, which led New Zealand to 367-3 after day one.
Importantly, the co-operation with Taylor and the warmth with which each celebrated the other’s milestones finally cast aside worries of any lingering acrimony.
The West Indies bowling was more focused on day two. While McCullum and Taylor had added 173 runs in the last two hours on Tuesday, the hosts managed only 78-2 in the first session of the second day.