With blue skies above us and a pitch that looked pretty good our plan, as we go into Day One, is to bat first. And bat first we did. Dan won the toss, again; just adding to his impressive tossing ability! We were pretty sure we were going to be batting no matter what. Early in the warm ups we noticed that their spinner, the 6ft 8 Benn, wasn't warming up as if he was playing. That can only mean one thing, they will play the extra seamer and will want to bowl first. Therefore, no matter what, we'll be batting.
The new opening partnership of How and McIntosh headed out to face the new ball. McIntosh has shown every ability to bat for long periods of time, often for not many runs. And this was the case early in the day. I think it took him about 36 balls to get off the mark. He showed no hurry, no worry about sitting on zero for such a long time and was off the mark with one that raced through the hands just above the head of the gully fielder.
When Howza was out and back in the viewing room he commented on Mac's state of mind, the side that we couldn't see. "This could be one long duck on debut." Mac speaking to Howza in between overs. It didn't happen and Mac looked good till he tried to take on Gayle and couldn't clear mid on. A disappointing way for him to get out after showing some pretty good guts and determination to the quicks, who bowled pretty quick.
This brought Flynny and Rossco together, one gutsy little accumulator and one of the classiest right hander's around. Two down and sitting reasonably pretty, a real chance to push on and grind the game away from them. I know it's only early in the match, but there was a chance to really take it away from the 'Windies. It wasn't to happen in this partnership. Rossco put together a nice start and then took on Gayle, up, up, a long way up and unfortunately dropping down to safe hands. Three for 120 odd and Jesse heads out to see Flynny.
That's two wickets fallen early in the second session. A goal of ours is to not lose more than two in a session. Jesse and Daniel now have some work to do to get us through to Tea. Oh, and they did an outstanding job. Both looked so comfortable and with a backward point fielder out on the fence they took advantage of this and rotated the strike nicely, ticking over the scoreboard, taking control.
Flynny got himself past 49 for the first time. Twice he'd been out on 49. He raised his bat today and kept batting beautifully until he became a part of history. Unfortunately not for the reasons he, or we, wanted. Flynny was adjudged LBW via the third umpire after Gayle referred a 'not out' decision from the umpire. This was the first time the system has been used in NZ and in the first referral an on field decision was overturned. Daniel was on 95 and looking comfortable. So the system takes its first victim. The decision took quite a long time to give; it was one of those ones that just didn't look right, therefore the batter getting the benefit of the doubt from the onfield umpire. When you then get the computers and slow mo's involved, and according to the 'laws' of the 'referral system', it had to be out, denying Flynny his maiden hundred.
Baz at six and the majority of the final session to go. Another target was to lose no more than 4 wickets in the day. This means that Jesse and Baz have to get us through to stumps. And they did. Albeit almost an hour early as the clouds rolled in and it became quite dark out there. With the days play starting at mid day means that the scheduled close of play is 7pm. No problems with finishing that late down here, if there's no cloud around that is. So we start 30 mins earlier tomorrow to try to make up the time. A mid day start is actually a little weird for a Test match, especially as just recently we've come from Bangladesh where we started at 9.30am. The late start means that breakfast is brunch and lunch is at afternoon tea time. It just doesn't feel normal, so as long as you don't look at your watch it's ok.
We head into Day Two in a pretty strong position, Jesse was looking strong and full of great timing and Baz showed great technique to see the day out and get us through with no more than four batters in the shed. And if all things go well, maybe a bowl late tomorrow afternoon.