'We rode our luck' - Taylor basks in NZ's first-day dominance

Published: Wednesday | December 4, 2013 Comments 0
Centurions, New Zealand's Ross Taylor (left) and Brendon McCullum, shake hands at the end of play against West Indies on the first day of their international cricket match at University Oval in Dunedin, New Zealand, yesterday. - AP
Centurions, New Zealand's Ross Taylor (left) and Brendon McCullum, shake hands at the end of play against West Indies on the first day of their international cricket match at University Oval in Dunedin, New Zealand, yesterday. - AP

 DUNEDIN, New Zealand (AP):

Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum set aside injury concerns to post centuries in an unbroken 182-run fourth-wicket partnership that propelled New Zealand to a commanding 367-3 at stumps on the first day of the first cricket Test against the West Indies.

Taylor overcame a recent knee injury to make 103 not out, and McCullum played through a chronic back injury which has sparked retirement speculation to reach an unbeaten 109 by close of play on Tuesday.

"It was a good day's cricket, especially when you've been put in on a day when the pitch is doing a bit," Taylor said. "I've got to give credit to the opening batters, they got through the early stages when the West Indies attack did put us under pressure.

"There was a little bit in the wicket, but we rode our luck and got a pretty competitive total on the board."

CONFIDENCE LOST

West Indies captain Darren Sammy was happy to send New Zealand in to bat on a green pitch at the University Oval after winning the toss, but his confidence faded when Hamish Rutherford (62) and Peter Fulton (61) put on 95 for the first wicket, and Fulton and Taylor added 68 for the third.

McCullum and Taylor then crushed the tourists' spirits with their partnership, which began just before the break for tea.

Taylor took only 66 balls to reach his half-century, and McCullum, under pressure to regain his form after scoring just 92 runs in eight innings in his last four Tests, reached his from 58 balls with nine fours.

The pair raised their century partnership in 86 minutes from 125 balls as McCullum, who scored 60 of those runs, inched closer to Taylor's run total. He finally matched Taylor at 94 after they had raised a 150 partnership from 183 balls in 120 minutes at a strike rate of 0.81.

McCullum reached his century just before the arrival of the second new ball, after batting for 128 minutes, facing 101 balls and hitting 13 fours and three sixes. Taylor followed soon after, reaching his ninth Test century from 150 balls in 208 minutes.

Taylor had a few close calls in the 90s: an appeal for caught behind which required the scrutiny of the television umpire and an inside edge which passed perilously close to his off stump. But he reached his century with his 13th boundary just before stumps.

"I think I was fighting a few demons at the start of the day," he said. "I wasn't feeling the greatest, but it's nice when you can push through those barriers and come through the other side with some well-earned runs."

New Zealand's dominating performance may have Sammy rethinking his decision to bowl after winning the toss. But after his squad lost their last Test series in India on dry and turning wickets, Sammy couldn't help but be dazzled by the green colour of the pitch at the University Oval.

GRASSY PITCH

"I've never seen a pitch with so much grass," he said as he announced his decision to bowl.

The tourists' lacklustre performance in the first session, however, suggested they were relying too much on the pitch to do the work of the bowlers.

Opening bowler Tino Best lacked consistency and his new-ball partner Shannon Gabriel, playing in his fifth Test, couldn't find his line, resulting in off-spinner Shane Shillingford being called into action after only 18 overs.

Shillingford gave the West Indies a little life by dismissing Rutherford two overs before lunch and taking 1-31 from 15 overs, but the tourists couldn't build any momentum after that.

Shillingford was named in the West Indies line-up for the first of three Tests against New Zealand as he awaits the outcome of an independent investigation into his bowling action.

Shillingford and Marlon Samuels, who did not bowl on the first day, are being investigated for suspect actions during the second Test against India at Mumbai in mid-November. A report is expected within 14 days and both players can compete in the interim.


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