Nicholls (117*) rides luck to take NZ to 294-6

SUMMARY: New Zealand 294-6 (Nicholls 117*, Young 43, Mitchell 42, Gabriel 3-57, Chemar Holder 2-65) vs West Indies

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An unbeaten century from Henry Nicholls averted a mid-innings slump as New Zealand recovered from 78-3 to post 294-6 by stumps on day one at Basin Reserve in Wellington.

Riding on a few dropped chances, Nicholls completed his sixth Test century and remained unbeaten alongside Kyle Jamieson to take New Zealand to stumps. At 170-4 heading into the tea break, the game seemed to be in the balance.

BJ Watling and Daryl Mitchell, alongside Nicholls, made it tougher for the visitors in the final session. 124 runs came in the last session as New Zealand kept the scoring rate brisk. The half-century stand between Nicholls and Watling was broken when Alzarri Joseph had the wicket-keeper chopping onto his stumps for 30.

Mitchell walked into some really good bowling from the Windies, but survived the initial burst before opening up against Roston Chase’s off-spin. His 42 off 68 balls came to an end when the impressive debutant, Chemar Holder, trapped him in front just before close of play. Nicholls had completed his century by then and ambled along to 117*.

Earlier in the day, West Indies won the toss and opted to bowl first on a green top, handing a debut to Holder in place of Kemar Roach who had returned to the Caribbean Islands. The visitors had another debutant behind the stumps in Joshua Da Silva.

West Indies Chemar Holder celebrates New Zealand’s Tom Latham being caught during the 2nd International cricket Test match between New Zealand and the West Indies at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on December 11, 2020. (Photo by Marty MELVILLE/AFP)

West Indies took time to get the first breakthrough despite the ball moving around early. Shannon Gabriel grabbed the first wicket in the seventh over by sending Tom Blundell back, the fourth time he had dismissed the Kiwi in four Tests.

Will Young, slotted in at number three in place of Kane Williamson who is on a paternity leave, consolidated the innings with Tom Latham. Unlike at Seddon Park last week, West Indies didn’t allow partnerships to flourish. First, Chemar Holder and Da Silva, the two debutants, combined to send back stand-in skipper Latham.

Ross Taylor was soon walking back, feathering one to the keeper off Gabriel to leave New Zealand at 78-3. At lunch, the visitors had justified their decision to bowl first, but Young and new man Nicholls soon turned that narrative around after the break.

The duo put on a half-century stand in the second session, riding on some luck as Shamarh Brooks put down Nicholls off Joseph. Few overs later, Nicholls had another chance as Darren Bravo shelled a regulation catch off Gabriel.

The breakthrough came at the other end, though, as Young fell seven runs short of a maiden half-century, Gabriel once again picking up the big wicket, his 150th in Test cricket. Nicholls once again survived an edge as Bravo spilled another off Chemar Holder when the batsman was on 49.

On 70, he survived a caught behind chance down the leg-side and West Indies reviewed the on-field decision. But Ultra Edge wasn’t available, and there was no conclusive evidence of the edge, allowing the New Zealand batsman to continue. He carried on to complete a century, stitching half-century stands with Watling and Mitchell. (ICC)

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