Brendon McCullum's test century drought burst in spectacular style in the Dunedin sun as New Zealand took control of the first cricket test against West Indies.
McCullum raised three figures off 101 balls in a savage final session assault from he and fellow centurion Ross Taylor at University Oval, as New Zealand raced to 367-3 at stumps on day one. McCullum (109 not out) and Taylor (103 not out) will push on towards an unbeatable 500-plus tomorrow.
The captain was under pressure after a poor run of test form, totalling 85 runs from his last seven innings, and was struggling with a painful back injury. His last test century was against India in Hyderabad in November 2010.
But as a poor West Indies attack waved the white flag in the final session, McCullum pounced after Taylor set the platform. The pair added an unbroken 182 off 38.3 overs for the fourth wicket as Taylor broke a drought of his own.
The former skipper's most recent test century was against Sri Lanka in Colombo in November 2012, New Zealand's last test victory and his final one in charge before being usurped by McCullum.
The pair embraced for each of their milestones, with McCullum raising his seventh test ton in the 85th over of the day, including 13 fours and three sixes, and Taylor his ninth in the next over with a boundary from the West Indies' best bowler Tino Best.
Having recovered from a knee injury, Taylor's ton came up off 151 balls with his 13th boundary, an innings where he looked in total control after lobbing a chance over the slips cordon on two.
It gave the hosts a stranglehold on the three-match series, a crucial statement of intent for the home summer as they chase their first test victory of the year after nine winless tests in 2013.
Earlier, West Indies captain Darren Sammy's eyes lit up when he called correctly, under cloudy skies and said it was the most grass he'd seen on a pitch.
But this is the clearly the weakest West Indies pace attack to tour New Zealand and there was no consistent pressure, aside from a sharp spell from the energetic Best after lunch.
New ball partner Shannon Gabriel sprayed it around and got worse in the final session while Sammy is no third seamer, as they rue the absence of Kemar Roach (shoulder), Ravi Rampaul (not fit enough for test cricket) and Fidel Edwards (out of favour).
The pitch didn't nearly seam around as much as expected, either, and there were enough freebies on the easy-paced surface for the home batsmen to get set.
Hamish Rutherford returned to the scene of his 171 against England on debut in March, having not topped 50 in 12 subsequent test innings. Loose deliveries disappeared through the off side at will, and with a century at his mercy he got under one from Shane Shillingford's spin on 62.
He and Peter Fulton added 95, their fifth stand of 50-plus for the first wicket.
Fulton toiled for nearly four hours for 61 before a loose waft, then Aaron Redmond (20) looked in great nick in his first test in five years before he was squared up by Best, who bowled at 140kmh-plus and was clearly the sharpest bowler on show.
But then that wasn't difficult, given the dross that was to follow.
The wheels could have fallen off for New Zealand at 185-3, but it quickly became the Taylor and McCullum show in the afternoon sun.
Scoreboard at stumps on day one of the first test between New Zealand and the West Indies at University Oval, Dunedin:
P Fulton c Edwards b Sammy 61
H Rutherford c Deonarine b Shillingford 6
A Redmond c Samuels b Best 20
R Taylor not out 103
B McCullum not out 109
Extras (4b, 7lb, 1nb) 12
Total (for three wickets, 90 overs) 367
Fall of wicket: 95, 117, 185
Bowling: T Best 21-4-87-1, S Gabriel 17-3-98-0, D Sammy 18-3-68-1 (1nb), S Shillingford 28-5-88-1, N Deonarine 6-0-15-0.
THE MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
10:00am: West Indies captain Darren Sammy calls correctly and opts to bowl first with helpful overhead conditions and a green tinge to Tom Tamati's Univesity Oval wicket.
12.17pm: Rutherford takes 10 off Shane Shillingford's third over and the home side move to 95-0 in just 23 relatively casual overs. It's the first time the home side really start to opened up, but it cost Rutherford (62) his wicket as he was caught near the boundary in Shillingford's next over.
Post lunch: Tino Best is sparked into like after the lunch break. He squares Aaron Redmond up and he's caught at gully to end his comeback innings on 20. Best then pings Ross Taylor on the shoulder then hits his handle with the short ball and the catch eludes the West Indian slips. Just.
2.51pm: Fulton (61) pushed at a wide one from Darren Sammy and Kirk Edwards took a relatively easy catch at second slip. It was the last success the West Indies had all day.
3.10pm (Tea): While the West Indies came out firing after lunch, they lost their mojo after tea. Brendon McCullum and Taylor came out firing, but were ably assisted by the smorgasbord of rubbish sent down, especially by Shannon Gabriel.
3.30pm on: The last session - It was all one way traffic. Taylor and McCullum raced to get to a 100 and break their respective century droughts while it was lucky University Oval doesn't have an old fashioned scoreboard as young lads might have struggled to keep with the McCullum and Taylor's scoring.
5.53pm: Umpires Nigel Llong and Paul Reiffel call stumps with New Zealand at 367-3 and McCullum (109no) and Taylor (103no) having put on an unbeaten 182 for the fourth wicket, just seven behind the record for New Zealand against the West Indies of 189 between Mathew Sinclair and Nathan Astle in 1999 at Wellington's Basin Reserve.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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