Antigua Test: West Indies cruising at 145/0 in reply to New Zealand`s 351
North Sound: Chris Gayle struck an unbeaten 85 and fellow opener Kieran Powell added 58 not out to power West Indies to 145/0 in reply to New Zealand`s 351 all out at the close on day two of the first Test on Thursday.
The veteran Gayle, in his first test since December 2010, cracked 12 fours and a six off 124 balls as he closed in on a 14th Test century at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
Fellow left/hander Powell`s third Test half century spanned 164 balls and included 10 boundaries.
Gayle was badly dropped at point by Daniel Flynn off Doug Bracewell on 36 but played some majestic strokes all around the ground.
Powell, 10 years Gayle`s junior, was equally assured, his only real blemish being on 11, when he edged debutant seamer Neil Wagner just out of the reach of Martin Guptill at second slip.
Earlier, offspinner Sunil Narine claimed 5/132 as the Black Caps stretched their overnight total from 232/4 to 351.
Narine, who led the hosts with three wickets on day one, claimed the wicket of nightwatchman Wagner in the day`s third over and wrapped up his first five/wicket haul when he claimed Kruger van Wyk in the second session.
Pacers Ravi Rampaul ended with 2/44 and fellow pacer Kemar Roach took 2/55 to provide solid support.
Narine began the day well as Wagner (4) departed to a gully catch off the edge after 10 minutes.
Kane Williamson and Dean Brownlie shared a stand of 40 for the sixth wicket to rebuild for the visitors.
Williamson eventually fell to the belatedly taken second new ball, deflecting Roach back onto his stumps from a leaden/footed defensive stroke. Williamson scored 19 off 69 balls with two fours.
Roach should have added Van Wyk off the next ball but umpire Richard Kettleborough failed to pick up a gloved leg/side catch to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin. West Indies could not challenge the decision after using up their two failed reviews on day one.
Brownlie compiled 23 off 66 balls, with three boundaries, before he drove at Rampaul and edged through to Ramdin to further dent the Kiwis.
New Zealand, after taking lunch at 287/7, was boosted by a counterattack from Daniel Vettori (17) and Bracewell, who hit a career/best 39 off 31 balls.
Bracewell shared a last/wicket stand of 42 with Chris Martin, who provided broad/batted resistance in 4 not out.
Captain Darren Sammy removed Vettori to a miscued pull while Ravi Rampaul returned to end Bracewell`s cameo through a skied catch to mid/on running back.
In between, Narine snared Van Wyk to a catch off bat and pad at short leg.
Gayle launched West Indies` reply with a volley of boundaries, racing to his half century off 39 balls as the hosts took tea at 72/0.
Gayle`s last test series was in Sri Lanka 18 months ago, then following the World Cup he was forced out of the team due to differences with the West Indies Cricket Board.
He slowed down after the break but Powell reeled off some sweet strokes to move closer to his partner.
New Zealand used five bowlers with left/arm spinner Vettori the most probing. He ended with 0/24 off 15 overs.