Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Cricket: Honours even in Antigua

New Zealand's Martin Guptill, plays a shot off West Indies' bowler Ravi Rampaul, unseen, during the opening day of their first cricket Test match. Photo / AP
New Zealand's Martin Guptill, plays a shot off West Indies' bowler Ravi Rampaul, unseen, during the opening day of their first cricket Test match. Photo / AP

New Zealand lost two wickets late in the third session, which took the gloss off a promising first-innings batting effort on day one of the first cricket test against the West Indies in Antigua today.

The Kiwis closed play on 232-4, with Neil Wagner (four) and Kane Williamson (two) unbeaten at the crease.

The visitors were looking in great shape at 223-2, before skipper Ross Taylor fell for 45 when he was turned in knots and bowled by spinner Sunil Narine in the 85th over of the day, but the major blow came 14 balls later.

Opener Martin Guptill had taken on the shape of an immovable object as he ground his way to 97 on a challenging batting strip but a rare show of exuberance saw him try to take on Narine and he was well caught by Narsingh Deonarine who claimed a sky-high catch.

Guptill's dismissal took the sting out of the batting effort of the Kiwis who then ground out the final couple of overs of the day and it was bizarre to see debutant Wagner given the high-pressure role of night watchman when Taylor was removed.

Granted, Wagner made his first-class debut at No 6 but it was a tough job to bestow upon a man who would've been nervous given the situation, while Narine was also in the middle of a brilliant spell of bowling.

Earlier, Taylor had won the toss and chosen to bat on the same ground New Zealand had struggled on greatly during the three-day tour match against the West Indies President's XI, where they were bowled out for 149 and only registered 188-8 in their second dig as they fought to a draw.

Opener Daniel Flynn look assured as he struck a composed 45 and took the shine off the new ball before he became Narine's first victim of the day.

Flynn and Guptill put on a solid 97 for the first wicket and Flynn's departure brought Brendon McCullum to the crease who struck a typically breezy 25 before he was sent back to the pavilion.

The number 97 would come back to haunt Guptill later as it would become the score he would have etched beside as his name as he fell frustratingly short of what would have been his third test-match century and his first against a major test-playing nation.

His previous hundreds were scores of 189 against Bangladesh in 2010 and 109 against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo last November.

The onus will fall on the shoulders of Williamson and the incoming Dean Brownlie and Daniel Vettori to push New Zealand's total past 400 on day two so they can put adequate pressure on the home side and put themselves in the match.

Narine was the undoubted pick of the bowlers from the West Indies as he finished with 3-73 from 28 overs, while seamer Kemar Roach was the other bowler to claim a wicket and logged 1-46 from 15 overs.

From the New Zealand side who played the tour match, only leg-spinner Tarun Nethula missed out on being named in the test side as all-rounder Doug Bracewell was inserted in the line-up to bolster the seam bowling ranks.

BJ Watling and Trent Boult weren't considered for the side due to injury and Watling's absence meant Kruger van Wyk will take the gloves for the test, while Tim Southee was the other player in the 15-strong squad who was left out.

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