Allrounder Styris puts New Zealand on top
On a day characterised by wayward bowling and carefree batting, Scott Styris kept New Zealand firmly in the hunt with an allround performance that included a counter-attacking hundred and two wickets in three balls in the dying moments. It was yet another case of lost opportunites for West Indies, who had their opponents on the mat in the opening session, but failed to pin them down and the loss of three quick wickets in the last few minutes meant they would be starting the second day with their backs to the wall.
At lunch however, the wind was blowing the other way. New Zealand had lost four wickets, to a combination of good bowling from Ian Bradshaw, an unfortunate runout and some injudicious shot selection, when Styris joined Nathan Astle. Styris started nervously, edging a boundary through slips and took his time to settle down as Astle upped the tempo with an innings more suited to the one-day format.
Astle was in a belligerent mood throughout, short-arm jabbing Jerome Taylor repeatedly to the square-leg and midwicket fence, and carting anything wide through the off side. Taylor struck Astle on the helmet with a well-directed bouncer but Astle responded by carting the next ball over cover for four. His carefree strokes eventually led to his dismissal as an expansive drive off Dwayne Smith found the outside edge to Denesh Ramdin to leave New Zealand on 140 for 5.
Meanwhile, had Styris got into the flow with consecutive fours off Edwards, and followed up with a pull and a cover drive off Bradshaw, but he shifted gear when Daniel Vettori was dismissed cheaply by hitting three consecutive boundaries, including a six over long on, again off Bradshaw. He formed the mainstay of a 41-run partnership with James Franklin for the eighth wicket and reached his century with a cover drive in the company of last man Chris Martin
New Zealand, who recorded their first-ever Test win exactly 50 years ago against West Indies on this very ground, blooded a new opening pair in debutant Jamie How and Hamish Marshall. Both openers struggled to find rhythm on a pitch that offered bounce and appreciable lateral movement provided the ball was pitched in the right areas. Edwards started the day with a perfect outswinger that opened up Marshall but thereafter his probing deliveries were interspersed with too many wide ones.
Playing in front of empty stands, How's debut ended on 11 in unfortunate fashion when Marshall's straight drive deflected off Bradshaw's hand on to the stumps at the bowler's end. Peter Fulton, also making his debut, rode his luck as two edges fell short of the slip cordon before Marshall hit Taylor's leg-side full toss straight to Edwards, the only fielder in the circle on the leg side, to reduce New Zealand to 31 for 2. Stephen Fleming threatened to pick up the momentum with a couple of perfect straight drives to the fence but Bradshaw induced a leading edge to gully off Fulton to set New Zealand back further. He then capped a perfect first session for West Indies by getting Fleming to nick an outswinger in the last over before lunch.
McCullum joined Styris after Astle put the innings back on track and struck fours fours before he misjudged the line from Smith and was castled. The manner of Vettori's dismissal - slashing a very wide ball from Smith to Chris Gayle at first slip - summarised the nature of play on the first day. With only the tailenders for company Styris reached his century with a flurry of strokes just before he ran out of partners.
The West Indian openers began dangerously. Darren Ganga survived three lbw appeals in James Franklin's first over and Chris Gayle was adjudged not out after a Shane Bond delivery bounded off his glove to slips. On 20, Ganga fended Chris Martin straight to How at gully to trigger a minor collapse. Nightwatchman Ian Bradshaw became the first of Styris's wickets but the biggest blow was struck when Gayle edged to McCullum in the penultimate over.
Jamie How run out Bradshaw 11 (23 for 1)
Straight drive deflected on to the stumps at the bowler's end
Hamish Marshall c Edwards b Taylor 11 (31 for 2)
Chipped a leg-side full toss to midwicket
Peter Fulton c Ganga b Bradshaw 17 (54 for 3)
Tried to play to the leg side, leading edge to gully
Stephen Fleming c Ramdin b Bradshaw 14 (69 for 4)
Nicked one that moved away
Nathan Astle c Ramdin b Smith 51 (140 for 4)
Edged behind going for the expansive drive
McCullum b Smith 19 (170 for 6)
Castled while not offering a shot
Daniel Vettori c Gayle b Smith 6 (199 for 7)
Slashed a wide ball to first slip
James Franklin c (sub) Morton b Gayle 14 (240 for 8)
Sharp reflex catch at first slip off a hard cut
Shane Bond b Gayle 3 (261 for 9)
Inside edge off an attempted sweep
Chris Martin c Ramdin b Bradshaw 0 (275 for 10)
Unlucky to be out, bat hit pad.
Daren Ganga c How b Martin (47 for 1)
Bounced on him, outside edge to gully
Ian Bradshaw c How b Styris 0 (48 for 2)
Closed the face early, outside edge to gully
Chris Gayle c McCullum b Styris 25 (49 for 3)
Defensive prod, outside edge to the keeper
George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo