Jermaine Blackwood completed a half-century on debut to put the West Indies in control of the second test against New Zealand in Trinidad on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old Jamaican celebrated his call up to the Test team with a well-crafted 63 at Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain.
Blackwood also shared a vital 76-run partnership for the eighth wicket with his captain, Denesh Ramdin (32), helping the West Indies finish with an impressive first innings total of 460 after they resumed the third day on 310 for five.
“It was a pretty wonderful feeling going out there,” Blackwood said. “In the first over, I felt a bit nervous, but then I started to play a bit [more freely]. To come into this setup at the age of 22, to make my debut, and to play with some good players... I could just play own game.”
That left New Zealand, who won last week’s first test in Kingston, trailing by 239 runs, and needing a big second innings to stay in the contest. They wiped 73 off the deficit by the close, but lost Brendon McCullum for three in the process.
Tom Latham (30 not out) and Kane Williamson (38 not out) safely guided the visitors through to stumps without further loss, but the visitors were still 166 in arrears with nine second innings wickets in hand.
The West Indies lost Kemar Roach for six before lunch, but Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Blackwood kept the scoreboard ticking along with a 47-run stand.
Chanderpaul fell just three shy of his fifty when he was trapped leg before wicket by improving New Zealand legspinner Ish Sodhi.
Blackwood was given a life on 11 when Latham failed to hold a low catch at short leg and went to reach his half-century off 93 balls.
He eventually fell to Sodhi, who grabbed the last wicket to fall as well to finish with 4-96, his best figures from eight Test appearances.
McCullum promoted himself to opener after Hamish Rutherford was unavailable because off an upset stomach, but was trapped lbw by Jerome Taylor, leaving Latham and Williamson to battle through to stumps.
“I think it comes down to how we bat in this innings to sort of determine how we are poised in this test match,” Sodhi said. “They actually batted really well, they had a different approach to what they had in the last game. They played a little bit more aggressively and it worked out for them.”