New Zealand ahead despite Samuels ton
New Zealand 260 and 59 for 2 (Guptill 42, Deonarine 2-3) lead West Indies 209 (Samuels 123, Boult 3-58, Bracewell 3-46) by 110 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The decision to play four seamers paid dividends for New Zealand as they secured a first-innings lead of 51 on a day where West Indies, barring Marlon Samuels, took their eyes off the ball. A score of 260 shouldn't have been too daunting for West Indies to overhaul, but New Zealand's seamers bowled with discipline to bundle out the hosts for 209. Samuels played the lone had with a counterattacking 123, his first Test century in the West Indies, but New Zealand never let go of the initiative from the morning session. The openers stretched the lead past 100 but a couple of late wickets gave a deflated West Indies unit some cheer.
That New Zealand silenced Chris Gayle and sent back a normally immovable Shivnarine Chanderpaul cheaply was indicative of the control they had over the West Indies batsmen. Samuels was the only batsman to pass 50 - the next highest was 32 - and the only one to stand up to the seamers, who attacked as a pack to put the hosts under pressure.
Trent Boult, the left-arm seamer, bowled with discipline and stuck to the simple mantra of keeping the ball in the channel outside the off stump to silence an in-form batsman like Gayle. In Antigua, Gayle's comeback Test, he bashed four successive boundaries in the first over of the innings to set himself up for a big hundred. Chris Martin, the unfortunate bowler on that occasion, was left out for this Test. However Boult, only four Tests old, ensured that Martin's experience wasn't missed. He found assistance from the breeze to slant the ball away from the left-handed openers. West Indies played out three consecutive maiden overs, and the pressure got to them in the fourth, when Kieran Powell edged Boult to Dean Brownlie at third slip. It took New Zealand 76 overs to separate the opening pair in Antigua. Here, they needed just nine.
Gayle got off the mark off his eighth delivery; his second run came off his 26th, indicating the hold the seamers had over him. Boult bowled with control and was given a lengthy spell by his captain. He was rewarded with another wicket, that of Assad Fudadin lbw. The umpire turned down the appeal but Ross Taylor successfully challenged it. It capped a rewarding spell of 7-1-18-2 for Boult.
Gayle was dropped on 5, but fortunately for New Zealand, it didn't cost them anything. He was squared up by one from Neil Wagner that took off, took the top edge and lobbed to point. He was gone for a painstaking 8 off 55 balls without a boundary, adding to his mediocre Test record at his home ground.
Samuels, the other Jamaican, didn't disappoint. He looked more comfortable, dabbing Southee past gully and driving down the ground for consecutive boundaries. He wasn't entirely convincing either, around his off stump, but strong off his pads. He wasn't afraid to steer the ball past the packed slip cordon, keeping the ball down. He crunched Boult past mid-off to bring up his fourth half-century of the year.
Having seen off Gayle, New Zealand still had Chanderpaul to deal with. He lasted just one ball in Antigua, here he lasted 40 balls for a watchful 9 before perishing to Tim Southee. Taylor made amends for dropping Gayle at slip earlier with a neat catch to get rid of Chanderpaul, and not long after, the hosts lost half their side for less than 100 when Narsingh Deonarine edged Boult.
The precarious position didn't deter West Indies from attacking, as Denesh Ramdin and Darren Sammy played brisk cameos. Sammy scooped and bashed his way to 32 off 29 balls before he fell just before tea, playing all around a toe-crusher from Southee.
Samuels remained strong at the other end, elegantly driving through the covers and pulling the short deliveries in front of square. He had his nervy moments when the ball kicked up and nearly brushed his glove. Though it was a bowlers' day, Samuels' resistance made for a classic Test match battle. He was steadily losing partners and at one stage looked like being stranded in the 90s. It was touch-and-go when on 98, he was joined by the No.11 Tino Best.
Samuels threw hell for leather with a flat six over deep extra cover off Southee to bring up his century. He came into this Test averaging 82.80 in 2012, and his innings lifted the gloom following Gayle's failure. Samuels continued his bat-swinging against Southee, depositing three consecutive half volleys over the ropes. He hammered Doug Bracewell in the following over, but the bowler had the last laugh thanks to a sharp catch by Wagner in the deep, bringing an end to West Indies' innings. The hosts didn't really look like matching New Zealand's score, but Samuels did well to minimise the damage.
Martin Guptill came out to bat despite being ill, and stretched the lead with some elegant drives off the front foot off the West Indies seamers. The seamers failed to cause early alarms, so as a last throw of the dice, Sammy turned to the part-time off spin of Deonarine late in the day. It was a smart bowling change as Deonarine dismissed the openers lbw in identical fashion - both shuffled across too far and exposed the stumps. Despite the lapse, New Zealand ended the day effectively 110 for 2. It will be up to their middle order to show the same spine displayed by the seamers.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo