WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) Ross Taylor fell for 93, seven runs short of his 17th test century, then watched Colin de Grandhomme score a maiden century from 71 balls as New Zealand took control of the first cricket test against the West Indies by stumps on Saturday.
Taylor carried New Zealand past the West Indies’ meager first innings of 134 in a 127-run fourth wicket partnership with Henry Nicholls (66), then de Grandhomme scored the second-fastest test century by a New Zealander in a 148-run seventh wicket stand with Tom Blundell who became the third New Zealand wicketkeeper to make a half century on test debut.
At stumps New Zealand was 447-9, holding a first innings lead of 313 runs with Blundell 57 not out and Trent Boult 2.
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De Grandhomme rushed to a century faster than any New Zealand batsman other than Brendon McCullum who scored the fastest-ever century in tests, from 54 balls, against Australia in Christchurch last year. His was the ninth-fast century of all time and comprised a half century from 44 balls and a second 50 from 27 deliveries with 11 fours and three sixes.
New Zealand’s grip on the game was strong when he came to the crease and became almost unbreakable when de Grandhomme and Blundell combined to plunder a tiring West Indies attack, with Blundell reaching ahalf century on debut from 83 balls.
”It was a good innings, set up by our top order, by Ross (Taylor) and Henry and Jeet (Raval),” de Grandhomme said. ”They made the bowlers come back more and more and made it a bit easier for me at the end there.
”I just batted according to what the situation was. I don’t mind coming in in that situation. It makes it a lot easier for me.
”I just saw what I saw in front of me and my score just got higher and higher. Tom (Blundell) and I just tried to get to the end of the day and get them coming back tomorrow. That was the plan. Tom was awesome. He looked pretty confident and chilled and was just enjoying the time.”
De Grandhomme’s innings helped make up for the disappointment that Taylor narrowly missed his own milestone.
The 17-century mark is a particularly personal and emotional one for Taylor as it would allow him to draw level with Martin Crowe and captain Kane Williamson who share the New Zealand record of 17 test hundreds. Crowe, who died last year of cancer aged 53, was Taylor’s close friend and adviser, credited with being a major influence on his career, and Taylor has frequently spoken of his desire to match Crowe’s record as a tribute to his mentorship.
New Zealand lost only one wicket in each of the first two sessions on the second day as it increased its controlling position in the match. Opener Jeet Raval (42) was the only man out in the morning as New Zealand reached 181-3 after resuming at 85-2, and Taylor’s was the only wicket to fall between lunch and tea when he was lost in the third over of the second new ball.
Taylor reached his 28th test half century before lunch Saturday, from 87 balls with six fours, during the early stages of his partnership with Nicholls which guided New Zealand past the West Indies’ total shortly before the first drinks break.
He was playing with increasing authority and had hit 10 boundaries when he fell lbw to Kemar Roach in the 84th over of the innings. The ball struck Taylor low, first on the front pad, then on the back and directly in front of middle stump but the umpire turned down the West Indies’ appeal having heard two noises and concluded the first was from the bat.
Roach and the West Indies’ referred the decision to the video referee, Bruce Oxenford of Australia, who quickly determined the ball had missed the inside edge and with the ball clearly hitting the stumps he called on compatriot Rod Tucker to reverse his decision. With Nicholls, Taylor had steered New Zealand from 109-3 on Raval’s dismissal to 236, a lead of 102.
It was only the third time that Taylor has been dismissed in the 90s in his 82-test career and the first time since he fell for 97 against Pakistan in Welington in 2009. He made his 16th century, an unbeaten 102 against Pakistan, in Hamilton in November last year.
New Zealand then added 180 runs after tea, thanks to de Grandhomme who completed a century in a single session and took the first match of the two-test series away from the West Indies.