Kingston, Jamaica: New Zealand's sixth-wicket pair of Jimmy Neesham and B.J. Watling have restored their team's dominant position in the first Test against the West Indies with the tourists reaching tea at 428 for five on the second day's play at Sabina Park in Jamaica on Monday.
Neesham's positive strokeplay in an unbeaten 85 has highlighted the 149-run partnership with Watling's pugnacious approach proving the perfect foil.
The wicketkeeper-batsman resumes after the break on 56 and the two will be expected to press on the accelerator even more with a view to a declaration that could see the West Indies, and more specifically opening batsman Chris Gayle in his 100th Test, facing a testing period from the New Zealand opening bowlers towards the end of the day.
Much attention on the resumption will also be on Neesham, 15 runs away from becoming the first New Zealander ever to score hundreds in his first two Test matches.
Despite long watchful periods during their time at the crease, the two players have ensured a healthy scoring rate by capitalising fully on the few loose deliveries served up by the bowlers.
The left-handed Neesham was particularly impressive, striking two straight sixes off Shane Shillingford in one over to go with ten fours in his innings so far.
The second session contrasted sharply with the first, 129 runs being scored off 35 overs to redress the balance after New Zealand lost three wickets for 20 runs in slipping to 279 for five before lunch.
Sulieman Benn was the first to strike within the first hour, Kane Williamson adding just another eight runs before misjudging the line of a straighter delivery from the left-armer to have his off-stump knocked back on 113.
Former captain Ross Taylor, the other overnight batsman, got to 55 before chipping a catch to Kirk Edwards at midwicket off off-spinner Shane Shillingford.
There was more celebration in the West Indies camp in the next over when extra bounce extracted by Benn grazed the edge of Brendon McCullum's bat and Gayle took the lobbed catch via wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin's shoulder to send the New Zealand captain back for just seven.
Any expectation though of polishing off the lower half of the Black Caps order evaporated in the blistering afternoon sunshine, and with his frontline bowlers wilting under the weight of the task, beleaguered captain Denesh Ramdin even resorted to a less than fully fit Gayle for a few overs in hope of a breakthrough.