Jimmy Neesham's counter-attacking 78 helped New Zealand recover to 293 on the first day of the Barbados Test against West Indies but the allrounder admitted his side had fallen at least 20-30 runs short of a par score at the Kensington Oval.
"I think we were a bit short. I think if we had got north of anywhere between 320-330 , it would would have been a really good effort," Neesham said. "So to fall 20 or 30 short is a little bit disappointing but there's a lot in it for the bowlers and if we get a couple out early, it will be interesting."
Neesham's innings was central to New Zealand after West Indies left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn had broken through the middle order, dismissing Kane Williamson, Brendon McCullum and BJ Watling. Benn went on to pick up his fourth Test five-for but did not rate his effort highly.
"I think this is the worst I have bowled for this series," Benn said. "In saying that, I worked hard through the series, so probably the results came today. If someone had said we would bowl them out for 280-290 and be batting on the first day, you would take that."
Whle Benn admitted the pitch was helpful for the bowlers, he was not sure if that assistance would continue through the Test. "I know on the first day in Barbados you always get a bit of assistance, because of the moisture in the pitch," Benn said. "It spun in the evening as well. Normally it does a bit first day, and rest of the days it flattens out. You get a little bit, obviously when the balls get older it tends to be good for batting. Kensington Oval always has bounce for spinners. So you want to get the ball into good areas. A little bit of turn also, so that was good."
Despite Benn's strikes, Neesham's fluency at the crease ensured that the run-rate hovered around the four-per-over mark but the batsman said that had more to do with the nature of the outfield than any tactics from the sides.
"I think the outfield on this ground is a lot quicker than the ones we've played on in the first two Tests," Neesham said. "There wasn't a whole lot different going on with the shot-making or the bowling. It was just when you did get one in the gap, it raced away for four as opposed to pulling out for one or two."
Neesham, who had scored hundreds in his first two Tests, was on track for scoring a third before he was run-out for 78. The dismissal also brought an end to a stubborn 64-run eighth-wicket partnership between him and offspinner Mark Craig, who scored an unbeaten 46.
"Anytime you get to the 60s or 70s, you start looking at that mark," Neesham said. "It was a little bit disappointing, the mix-up between me and Mark, called at the same time and there was a little bit of miscommunication going on but I'll take that on my shoulders. It was probably my call. It was a little bit disappointing to get out that way, but I think you'd move and get on with the rest of the game."