WELLINGTON: Neil Wagner rated his career best seven-wicket haul a “horrible” performance as New Zealand seized the honours on day one of the first Test against the West Indies in Wellington.
But as the West Indies licked their wounds after being rolled in the first innings for 134, they believed they only were one wicket away from getting back into the game.
“The big wicket is Ross Taylor. If we can get him early tomorrow morning, anything’s possible,” coach Stuart Law said.
Taylor was not out 12 with Jeet Raval on 29 as New Zealand reached 85 for two at stumps – 49 runs in arrears after Wagner ensured the West Indies were dismissed cheaply.
The South African-born left-armer, a fiery short-ball specialist, claimed seven for 39 and was twice on a hat-trick as he bettered his previous best of six for 41 against Zimbabwe last year.
But it was an innings-destroying performance that Wagner did not see coming after the West Indies , sent into bat, comfortably reached 59 without loss.
“It was a bit of a bizarre day to be honest. I sort of got a bit worried at one stage, they were looking quite comfortable,” he said.
“The pitch was not doing as much as we expected and I felt horrible to be honest. At the start I just felt like I didn’t have a great rhythm.”
“I think I’ve bowled a lot better on other days and not get a wicket and then you get days like this and you end up getting a seven-for … things don’t really tick but wickets just keep falling and it’s a just bizarre thing.”
Law described the West Indies batsmen as being “all bitterly disappointed” with their effort but believed they were still in the game.
“I know we’re a lot better than what we performed like out there today,” he said. “It’s one of those things we tend to have habit of not starting a series very well but by no means are we dead and buried in this contest.
“A 100 lead or 150 sounds lot but I believe if we put our minds to it that’s a pretty good batting wicket coming into day three and day four.”
When New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson won the toss he hesitated in making the West Indies into bat on a green wicket.
Despite the conditions, openers Kieran Powell and Kraigg Brathwaite safely progressed to 59 before Wagner engineered a collapse that saw all 10 wickets fall in 22 overs for only 75 runs.
By digging the ball in short and angling it towards the rib cage he had his first success in his third over when Brathwaite went for 24.
On either side of the lunch adjournment he ripped through the West Indies ‘ new generation of specialist batsmen with three wickets in four balls.
Shimron Hetmyer (13) went on in the last ball before lunch, rising star Shai Hope fell on Wagner ‘s second ball after play resumed and debutant Sunil Ambris stepped back on his stumps with the first ball he faced in Test cricket.
Wagner also removed Roston Chase (five) and Jason Holder with successive balls, with Holder falling to a perfectly placed yorker, and wrapped up the innings with the dismissal of Shannon Gabriel (10).
Shane Dowrich was run out for 18 while Trent Boult took the wickets of Powell (42) and Miguel Cummins (one).
Tom Latham was the first New Zealand wicket to fall for 37 and Williamson went cheaply for one before Raval and Taylor cautiously added 17 in 8.3 overs through to stumps.