Antigua: Martin Guptill fell three runs short of his third test century as New Zealand closed the first day of the first test against West Indies on 232 for four at North Sound, Antigua.
Guptill’s patient 249 ball, 353 minute innings was the backbone of a solid opening day for the tourists, who won the toss, but two late wickets gave West Indies a chance of making some inroads on Thursday.
Off-spinner Sunil Narine, playing in his first test in the Caribbean after making his debut in the five-day game on the tour of England in June, showed his value with three wickets.
Guptill put on 97 for the first wicket with Daniel Flynn before Narine got his first test wicket and a much-needed breakthrough for Darren Sammy’s side after a fruitless morning session.
Flynn, on 45, attempted to cut a rising, short delivery from Narine but was beaten by some extra bounce and chopped the ball to Kieran Powell at point.
It was a moment of relief for the Caribbean side who had bowled pretty well in the early stages for little reward with Kemar Roach and Ravi Rampaul getting some movement.
Roach finally got his reward when Brendon McCullum (25) drove him straight to Narsingh Deonarine at mid-off who held on well.
Skipper Ross Taylor then got his head down with Guptill in a solid 90 run partnership which frustrated the hosts and the handful of spectators at the sadly empty Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
But six overs from the close Narine struck — again with a shorter delivery — when Taylor gloved the ball on to his stumps as he attempted to work the ball to the onside.
Then Guptill, with the prospect of ending the day unbeaten and with a century to his name, had a rush of blood as he allowed the moment to get to him.
Attempting to sweep Narine, the opener got a top edge which was snaffled up by Deonarine at mid-on to the delight of Sammy.
New Zealand will now have to consolidate on Thursday morning rather than motor towards an imposing total but it was nonetheless a day when their top order showed they could handle themselves in Caribbean conditions.