The second day of the first cricket Test between New Zealand and the West Indies belonged to Kane Williamson.
The New Zealand captain, whose actions and decisions shaped the day, scored 251, his third double century and highest score in Tests, before making an assertive declaration at 7-519 early in the final session.
Williamson’s innings came to an end 14 runs before his declaration but he courteously waited for Kyle Jamieson to complete his maiden half century before calling his batsmen in at 4.25pm, with around 26 overs left in the day.
At stumps the West Indies, depleted by minor injuries to batsman Darren Bravo and wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich, were 49 without loss.
Bravo has a sprained ankle and Dowrich an injured hand.
Openers Kraigg Braithwaite (20) and John Campbell (22) batted doggedly through the late afternoon to ensure the tourists went to stumps with all 10 wickets intact.
Most of the day was a process of ticking off milestones for Williamson who steadily built his innings and played New Zealand into a more dominant position than it could have hoped when it lost the toss on Thursday and was sent in.
“After the day’s play yesterday and looking at the surface, we were pretty happy finishing with only a couple of wickets down because both teams were pretty keen to bowl first,” Williamson said.
“There was a bit of movement there and a bit of fortune goes your way.
“We were able to build those partnerships throughout the innings to get a really competitive first innings total. But there’s a bit of work to do. The Hamilton wicket tends to keep flattening out so there’s a big job for the bowlers to do.”
The West Indies bowlers produced a much better performance than on the first day when, perhaps over excited by the chance to bowl on a pitch which blended into the outfield, they missed their lengths and allowed Williamson and Tom Latham to form a 154 run partnership for the second wicket.
That allowed Williamson to reach 97 by stumps when New Zealand was 2-243.
The bowlers were much more disciplined and effective on Friday, keeping a fuller length and attacking off stump.
They repeatedly deprived Williamson of his partners but the New Zealand captain remained impregnable and grew his own score and his team’s.
When he was out for 251, caught on the boundary after having passed 250 for the first time with a six, New Zealand was 7-503 and Williamson had half that total.
“For me it was important to try and make good decisions for a long period of time and I think that gives you the best chance,” Williamson said.
“But there’s so much cricket left and that’s where our focus is at the moment.”
Williamson’s innings was a feat of concentration and endurance.
He came to the crease early, when New Zealand lost its first wicket after only four overs on the first day and with the pitch apparently providing dream conditions for fast bowlers.
He batted for the remainder of that day and for much of the second, leaving his indelible imprint on the match.
Resuming at 97, Williamson clipped a single then reached his century with a signature shot, rising up on his toes to punch a short ball from Kemar Roach to the boundary wide of point.
He also reached his double century with a four from Roach’s bowling, this time from a cover drive, another of the characteristic shots that peppered his innings.
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Every element of his effort on Friday bespoke Williamson’s extraordinary talent and nature.
Most batsmen would have fretted to be just short of a century at stumps in a Test match, likely would have slept uneasily that night.
Williamson showed no signs of concern and resumed as if his innings had not been interrupted by a long night of anticipation.
Mostly he was patient and selective of the deliveries and shots he played.
His century came from 224 balls, his 200 from 369 deliveries and after 556 minutes at the crease.
Williamson allowed himself a little more freedom from that point, hitting two fours and a six off Roach who then appeared to have dismissed him next ball for 221.
He was caught behind by stand-in keeper Shamarh Brooks but the television umpire ruled Roach had overstepped.
Williamson hit a six from the ball before his eventual dismissal and was out attempting to repeat the shot.
The cricket reacted in awe at the quality of Williamson’s majestic knock in such tricky conditions.