Tom Latham struck 12 fours and a six during his 86 on the opening day of the first Test against West Indies but the leave was probably the shot that defined his innings.

After winning the toss on a greener-than-usual Hamilton pitch, West Indies got debutant Will Young out early, but Latham and Kane Williamson added 154 for the second wicket to put New Zealand in front. They finished the day on 243 for 2. During the course of his knock, Latham not only left balls on line but also on length, with the West Indies fast bowlers often erring on the shorter side. Of 176 balls he faced from the pacers, Latham left 69 (39.2%).

"There was probably a little bit more grass on this Hamilton wicket than we have traditionally seen in the past," Latham told the host broadcaster after the day's play. "Probably had a little bit more pace as well than we are used to seeing here.

"I think initially it [the pitch] was probably a little bit slower. Sometimes when it's a little bit softer, it tends to hold in the wicket a little bit more. But it did dry up a little bit and quickened up but I think West Indies bowled a little bit short, which allowed us to leave a lot of balls on length early on to get ourselves in."

Since the start of 2018, Latham has scored 1517 Test runs, the most by any opener in that period. His average of 52.31 is also the best among openers with at least 1000 runs in that time. He has done this while playing most of his cricket on seamer-friendly New Zealand tracks. So, how did he prepare himself for this particular Test?

"You always hope the coin toss goes your way but you have to be prepared to bat first on a wicket like that. Try not to deliberate too much the day before. On a wicket like that, you probably want to limit driving the ball. Ideally, wait for something a little bit straighter or something a little bit shorter, so that was sort of the plan.

"The danger for me was driving the ball on the up and bring the slips into play. They obviously bowled well in periods and bowled a lot of dots to me and Kane but it was nice to try and overcome those periods and seek some little rewards after that."

Latham had a moment of luck as well. When on 43, he went to cut a short and wide delivery from Holder only to nick it to the wicketkeeper. But apart from Darren Bravo at first slip, hardly anyone else appealed and Latham survived.

"You sometimes need that," Latham said. "So you've got to make most of those things when you get the chance."

While New Zealand have the upper hand, Latham thinks both their batsmen and bowlers would have to adapt a little bit as the pitch is expected to quicken up as the game progresses.

"Hopefully it will quicken up a little bit as we see here in New Zealand, it tends to quicken up a bit on day two. So the lengths we bowl may change a little bit but that's about adapting to the surface each day. Hopefully, firstly we can do that with the bat and then when we get our chance with the ball, we can do that too."