Bridgetown, Barbados – Kemar Roach made two early strikes for the West Indies but honours were just about even with New Zealand reaching the lunch interval at 95 for two on the first day of the third Test at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Thursday.
After the fast bowler removed openers Hamish Rutherford and Tom Latham cheaply, the tourists were steadied by Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor. The third-wicket pair have so far put on 67 runs in a partnership highlighted by a succession of attractive strokes on a pitch offering minimal assistance to the pacers.
Williamson resumes after the interval on 40 with Taylor on 34.
On his home ground, Roach wasted little time in making inroads after New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum decided to bat first on winning the toss. Hamish Rutherford, who endured a double-failure in the previous Test in Trinidad, looked unconvincing again in getting four runs off 12 deliveries before a mistimed push to the on-side offered a low catch to Shivnarine Chanderpaul at mid-on.
Latham, who started the series with scores of 83, 73 and 82, failed to benefit from a reprieve via the television technology, being trapped palpably leg-before by Roach for 14 to have New Zealand decidedly unsteady at 28 for two. He had been given out in the same manner in the fast bowler's previous over but the batsman's referral of the on-field decision showed that the ball had pitched outside the line of leg-stump, hence the reversal.
West Indies have strengthened their bowling attack for this deciding Test, giving tall fast-medium bowler Jason Holder a debut at the expense of Jermaine Blackwood despite the batsman having scored 63 in his debut Test innings at Queen's Park Oval a week earlier. Spinner Shane Shillingford, who missed the second Test because of an ankle injury, is back in the final 11, taking the place of burly fast bowler Shannon Gabriel.
New Zealand made one change for the match, replacing leg-spinner Ish Sodhi with Neil Wagner and leaving the main slow bowling duties solely in the hands of off-spinner Mark Craig. – Sapa-AFP