Ross Taylor’s first Test double-century helped New Zealand to 609 for nine declared before his bowlers reduced the West Indies to 67 for two as the hosts took firm control on day two of the first Test in Dunedin, New Zealand, yesterday.
Taylor produced a controlled 217 not out and combined in a string of productive partnerships to push New Zealand past 600 for just the fourth time in their Test history.
It was their highest score against the West Indies, surpassing the 543 for three the 1972 team scored in Guyana, and the highest Test score in Dunedin, eclipsing the 586 for seven New Zealand made against Sri Lanka in 1997.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet, maybe tonight it will,” Taylor, whose previous best score was an unbeaten 154 not out against England in Manchester in 2008, told Radio Sport. “I think my state of mind out there, I was just trying to bat the same tempo, be pretty relaxed and play as straight as possible. I actually feel like I’m still batting out there so hopefully it will sink in a bit more tonight.”
After the declaration, Trent Boult had Kirk Edwards caught at second slip by Peter Fulton for a duck before Tim Southee dismissed Kieran Powell caught behind for seven to reduce the tourists to 24 for two.
Darren Bravo (37 not out) and Marlon Samuels (14 not out) combined to settle the innings and guide their side to the close, albeit 542 runs in arrears.
Taylor curbed his typically attacking instincts yesterday against a bowling attack far more disciplined than they had been on day one, when they won the toss and chose to bowl on the green-tinged pitch.
Such was Taylor’s control at the crease, he did not hit a six in his entire 317-ball, 491-minute innings.
The 29-year-old, a renowned six-hitter in limited-overs cricket with a penchant for throwing away his wicket by hitting across the line over midwicket, said he had never batted better for his country.
“I think probably Manchester comes close to it,” Taylor added. “Both innings I didn’t feel great leading into it and I had to exorcise some of those demons. Mentally, I think the way I structured it, it was my best innings. All through the day it was just about ticking off little things. Getting to 150, then my highest Test score, the highest score on the ground then Smithy [Ian Smith] told me that I’d never beat his 174, so I will have to remind him of that.”
Taylor shared in five partnerships of more than 60 runs.
The largest of 195 with captain Brendon McCullum (113) was a New Zealand record for the fourth wicket against the West Indies, surpassing the 189 runs Mathew Sinclair and Nathan Astle compiled in late 1999.
The hosts had resumed the day’s play on 367 for three after Taylor and McCullum had completed centuries just before the close on Tuesday.
McCullum was bowled by a Darren Sammy delivery that nipped back and hit off stump to leave the hosts 380 for four, before Corey Anderson was caught behind for a duck before lunch.
Taylor and Watling (41) then shared in an 84-run partnership before the wicketkeeper was well-caught by Edwards at second slip, when Tino Best got a delivery to pop off a length and New Zealand were 469 for six.
Pace bowler Southee was dismissed three runs later for two, well caught by Bravo at slip after he prodded at a Narsingh Deonarine delivery, before Taylor and Ish Sodhi (35) combined for a 76-run partnership.
Taylor, who had been joined by Neil Wagner, hit his 23rd boundary to move to 199 before paddling the ball behind square for three runs to reach the milestone and prompt a standing ovation from the crowd at University Oval.
He was the 13th New Zealand batsman to score a double century in Test cricket.
Wagner attacked after tea, blasting two sixes and three boundaries before he was run out for 37, which prompted McCullum to declare about 25 minutes into the final session.
“We could have easily been bowled out for 450, which would have been a good total, but not deserved of yesterday’s performance,” Taylor said. “Those little partnerships of 50 or 60 are always valuable and I’m sure for the rest of the series, those guys all got starts and hopefully they can continue later on.”