Key Points:

The national selectors were on hand to watch Auckland opener Tim McIntosh at Eden Park yesterday.

But while the test candidate did his hopes of hearing happy news this morning no harm with a measured 78 against the West Indies, his captain Richard Jones took the batting honours with a top class unbeaten 186 as Auckland reached 359 for two.

The pitch on the outer oval was the same as that used for the State Championship game against Wellington last week during which 974 runs were scored for the loss of 12 wickets.

McIntosh got 191 in that game and yesterday he shared a 223-run, second wicket stand with Jones off 322 balls, the pair falling only 18 runs short of the provincial record for that wicket, set by Trevor Franklin and Jeff Crowe in Wellington in 1988-89.

To a noisy backdrop of cranes, trains and automobiles, as the major surgery continued at the main stadium, Auckland rattled along at four runs an over for most of the

day and the batsmen also benefited from the short western and southern boundaries.

Tall lefthander McIntosh was composed and spent a little under four hours at the crease, the occasional flourishing drive or flick off the hip serving him well.

His solitary six cracked into the top of the sightscreen and he seemed set for a century until touching an attempted hook to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin.

Reece Young kept the pressure on the West Indies bowlers, sharing an unbroken 125 with Jones, contributing a tidy 56 not out. But Jones set the pace. He was bullish against the short ball, cut efficiently and took the attack to the West Indies bowlers.

Jones, whose solitary test was against Pakistan in 2003, hit 25 fours and three sixes in his 295-ball innings and he was two short of his highest score at stumps. It was his 13th first-class century but last night he played

it down.

"The best I've played? I don't know, I don't really think about it too heavily, but it's nice because it's against an international side," he said.

Jones, who scored seven of his first-class hundreds for Wellington and six for Auckland, praised the West Indies bowlers for plugging away in circumstances where they'd have fancied slipping out at the lunch break and taken to the pitch with a fork.

The fielding got sloppy at times as the day wore on, but only one catch went down, in the penultimate over, Sewnarine Chattergoon grassing a chance at short extra cover off Young.

The one batsman to miss out was opener Martin Guptill, edging Fidel Edwards to second slip in the third over of the day.

Test certainties Daren Powell and Jerome Taylor have taken the game off, along with captain Chris Gayle and reserve wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh.

So the three fast-medium men in action yesterday, Edwards, Kemar Roach and Lionel Baker, were effectively vying for one, possibly two, first test places next week. Edwards was the sharpest but at times copped punishment from Jones in particular.

Left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn - reputedly the third-tallest player to appear for the West Indies after quick men Curtly Ambrose and Joel Garner - caused the odd false shot.

The bowlers at least had a good blowout. But the West Indians most interested in the day's activities were probably acting captain Ramnaresh Sarwan, International Cricket Council player of the year Shiv Chanderpaul and their top-order batting chums.

They chased plenty of leather yesterday. Today will be their turn to cash in on the Eden Park motorway.