New Zealand leave Windies struggling
New Zealand took full advantage of being asked to bowl first by reducing West Indies to 182 for 8 on a rain-interrupted first day at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. James Franklin's impressive 5 for 44 - including the wicket of top-scorer Runako Morton - ensured the home side did not entirely miss Shane Bond, ruled out due to fever ten minutes before the start of play.
Franklin was rewarded for consistent, full-pitched bowling with the key wickets of Chris Gayle and Brian Lara in the first session, both batsmen falling to loose shots outside off. Bowling full in an attempt to swing the ball, Franklin ended Gayle's streaky innings of 30 by forcing him to drive loosely at one around off stump and edging to the 'keeper. He then added the big scalp by drawing Lara across his stumps and getting him to edge an outswinger to Stephen Fleming at first slip. In between these dismissals, Kyle Mills got Daren Ganga to nibble one down the leg side where Brendon McCullum dove full length and plucked a one-handed beauty. 43 for no loss had suddenly become 49 for 3 and those three wickets gave the home side new energy in the field, and a sluggish start made way for energetic saves and chirpy comments in the field.
Franklin continued his good work after lunch, claiming the wickets of Dwayne Bravo and Denesh Ramdin. Bravo was caught in front of middle and off by one that pitched and straightened, while the impetuous Ramdin swung recklessly at a full ball and chopped on to off stump. Rain and bad light paused proceedings on two occasions - the first for over an hour - but it had little effect on New Zealand's progress. In his first over after the first delay, Franklin had Morton leg before to one that held its line.
Moving the ball both ways at a nippy pace, Franklin revelled in his role as frontline bowler. Though not always as fast as Mills and Chris Martin, it was his ability to pitch it up and invite the drive that made him effective on what was otherwise an ideal batting track. He repeatedly beat the defensive prods of each batsman he bowled to. New Zealand have often struggled without Bond but today Franklin displayed much of the same control and swing as his senior partner and capped a good day for the home side.
Mills and Martin supported Franklin well, sharing the rest of the wickets. Martin was the quickest of the lot, but was lucky with the wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul. The replays showed the ball had come off Chanderpaul's thigh pad and not bat as Daryl Harper adjudged. Martin added a further scalp by forcing Rawl Lewis, playing his first Test since 1998, to fend at a lifter and edge to first slip.
Standing tall amid the deluge was Morton, brought in for the injured Ramnaresh Sarwan, who played positive shots either side of the pitch on way to his maiden Test fifty. He survived a testing spell from Martin, during which he was made to duck and sway more than once, but kept his nerve to cut and pull anything short as he brought up fifty from 98 deliveries. But his was a lone act on another depressing day for West Indies
Chris Gayle c McCullum b Franklin 30 (43 for 1)
Drove loosely to one outside off, nicked and easily held
Daren Ganga c McCullum b Mills 15 (45 for 2)
Nibbled at one down leg, stunning one-handed catch diving left
Brian Lara c Fleming b Franklin 1 (49 for 3)
Pushed at one on off and well held at first slip
Shivnarine Chanderpaul c Fleming b Martin 8 (80 for 4)
Nicked the thigh guard through to slip, given out
Dwayne Bravo lbw b Franklin 9 (102 for 5)
Brang it back into the right-hander, trapped in front of middle and off
Denesh Ramdin b Franklin 2 (108 for 6)
Crude swing results in an inside edge onto off stump
Rawl Lewis c Fleming b Martin 22 (142 for 7)
Fended at a lifter, snapped up at first slip
Runako Morton lbw b Franklin 63 (165 for 8)
Pitched on middle, rapped the front pad
Jamie Alter is editorial assistant of Cricinfo