"--IANS/CMC"
Port-of-Spain (Trinidad), June 16 (IANS/CMC) Opener Tom Latham's third consecutive half-century underlined New Zealand's strong start to the second Test against West Indies here Monday.

The 22-year-old, in only his third Test, was unbeaten on 51 at the lunch break as the Black Caps reached 86 for one after winning the toss and batting on another flat Queen's Park Oval surface, reports CMC.

He was partnered by Kane Williamson, unbeaten on 23, with the two having already shared a 70-run, second wicket stand.

The only wicket to fall was that of Hamish Rutherford, caught at first slip for three by Chris Gayle off fast bowler Jerome Taylor in the ninth over of the day.

A replacement for Peter Fulton, Rutherford lasted just 22 balls and 37 minutes before reaching for a wide ball and finding Gayle's lap, leaving New Zealand on 16 for one.

However, Latham and Williamson combined to resist the Windies attack with sound defence and positive stroke-play.

The left-handed Latham has so far faced 85 balls and struck seven fours while Williamson, a right-hander, has hit four boundaries off 51 deliveries.

New Zealand started watchfully, only collecting their first boundary in the day's tenth over when Latham drove the fourth ball of fast bowler Shannon Gabriel's first spell, to the straight boundary.

He picked up his second four in Gabriel's next over with a steer behind point and had a third with an edge that fell just short of Gayle at slip, and sped to third man.

With lunch approaching, Latham moved into the 40s with a lovely straight drive off left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn and then edged the next ball wide of slip for another boundary, to go to 47.

He reached his half-century with a single forward of square off Gabriel, in the penultimate over before lunch.

Williamson, meanwhile, had a slice of luck on 19, when he edged a cut at Benn 11 minutes before lunch, only for Gayle at slip to muff a sharp chance.

Brief scores:

New Zealand 86 for one (Tom Latham 51 not out, Kane Williamson 23 not out; Jerome Taylor 1/10) vs West Indies.

--IANS/CMC

vs/pm/


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