The moist look of the Sabina Park strip prompted Darren Sammy to go against convention. Upon winning the toss he chose to bowl first in this second and final Digicel Test match. In the end, his decision paid off.
New Zealand lost seven wickets for 108 runs in a dramatic last session to hand the advantage to the West Indies on the first day here.
Narsingh Deonarine, Kemar Roach, Sunil Narine and Tino Best shared those wickets between them to limit the Black Caps to 260.
In reply, West Indies reached 11 without loss at stumps.
Once more, the visitors were not able to sustain the good work of opener Martin Guptill and their captain Ross Taylor over the first two periods of play.
Taylor came into a developing crisis at 11 for two in the sixth over. The accurate line of attack from both Roach (17.5-2-70-4) and Best (16-1-40-2)–preferred to Fidel Edwards–accounted for BJ Wattling (two)–one of three New Zealand changes–and Brendon McCullum (zero).
Technology should have saved Wattling who had replaced the injured David Flynn. He had quite obviously edged Roach to Chris Gayle at first slip but umpire Marais Erasmus sought the help of TV umpire Richard Kettleborough to check whether the bowler had overstepped.
Kettleborough contentiously ruled that Roach had not.
Roach can take no wickiet nowadays without having the dismissal reviewed.
"It's playing on my mind. Obviously I need some more time to iron it out. Hopefully after this Test match I'll go back and work on it hard," he said later.
In the next over, however, there was no doubt when a peach of a Best delivery, touching down on off-stump, compelled McCullum to both play at and edge a catch to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin.
Best, with his controlled aggression at that stage, threatened to produce another wicket. But captain Sammy limited his tearaway to four overs in his opening spell.
Sammy brought himself on and then Sunil Narine by the 12th over. But Taylor (60, 10 fours) was already playing with freedom. The pitch was good for batting. The moisture was temporary and Sammy would have been disappointed that his side only managed two wickets in the first session, New Zealand ending it on 74 for two.
The tall Guptill (71, 250 minutes, six fours, two sixes), content to anchor the innings, had by then played a memorable straight, stroked six over bowler Sammy's head. Just before the tea break, he repeated the stroke against the same bowler, but got four instead.
By that time, his third wicket effort with Taylor had ended at 103. The skipper quick to pounce on anything to hit, had succumbed to Best. Good on the cut all day, he had just hit the now somewhat erratic Best away for four to bring up the 100 partnership, when he went after a ball of extra bounce and snicked a catch to Ramdin.
The bowler stood on the pitch, feet spread apart, shaking with triumph and thumping his chest . But the West Indies would get no further chance to celebrate before tea, taken at 152 for three.
The patient Guptill, up to 62 by then, was in the midst of a fourth wicket stand of 47 with Kane Williamson (22). Williamson had escaped in the last over before the break when the recently-introduced Deonarine could not hold onto a firmly driven return catch.
New Zealand were progressing rather than dominating proceedings. Sammy's spin-bowling ace, Narine (26-7-66-1), had not caused much discomfort. But Deonarine (12-3-43-2) had proven to be a useful option before at this level and it was he who eventually triggered the visitors' collapse in the last session.
The Guyanese off-spinner got the first of the three wickets to fall for nine runs shortly after tea when Williamson ill-advisedly reached out to drive a delivery but instead edged into Sammy's hands at slip.
Seven balls later, in the next over by Roach, Dean Brownlie stabbed at a delivery on off-stump and gave Ramdin his third catch of the innings. And then Best got into the action again, this time striking from the extra-cover region with a direct hit that caught Guptill, struggling with a leg problem by this time, well short of his ground at the striker's end.
At 170 for six, New Zealand's steady work in the second session had been wiped out. And their innings lay in ruins when Sammy eventually paired Deonarine and Narine. They each struck in the space of six balls to end a useful 32-run seventh wicket partnership.
Narine, having had the wicket of Doug Bracewell denied by a review by the TV umpire who ruled he had over-stepped, bowled the same player next delivery as Bracewell tried to swing a ball off his off-stump. Deonarine then deceived little wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk (16), who prodded forward but curiously offered no shot to a ball which spun between bat and pad to strike the stumps.
Deonarine had again proved the effectiveness of his off-spin. But having been struck for two sixes by Tim Southee, Sammy went back to pace to end the innings.
First ball replacing Deonarine, Roach had Southee edging a full delivery to his captain in the slips. But the last pair of Neil Wagner (23, four fours) and Trent Boult (14 not out) belted 35 more before Roach made Wagner his fourth wicket. Those were welcome runs.
But hardly enough.
WEST INDIES vs NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand 1st Inns
B.J. Watling c Gayle b Roach...................................2
M. Guptill run out (Best)......71
B. McCullum c wkpr Ramdin b Best......................................0
*R. Taylor c wkpr Ramdin b Best.....................................60
K. Williamson c *Sammy b Deonarine...........................22
D. Brownlie c wkpr Ramdin b Roach...................................0
+K. van Wyk b Deonarine...16
D. Bracewell b Narine.........14
N. Wagner c Best b Roach.23
T. Southee c *Sammy b Roach.................................18
T. Boult not out...................14
Extras (b6, lb2, w1, nb11).................................20
TOTAL (all out)................260
Fall of wkts: 10 (Watling), 11 (McCullum), 114 (*Taylor), 161 (Williamson), 162 (Brownlie), 170 (Guptill), 202 (Bracewell), 202 (+van Wyk), 225 (Southee)
Bowling: Roach 17.2-2-70-4 (nb4); Best 16-1-40-2 (w1); *Sammy 10-1-30-0 (nb2); Narine 26-7-66-1 (nb5); Samuels 1-0-2-0; Deonarine 12-3-43-2
West Indies 1st Inns
C. Gayle not out....................1
K. Powell not out.................10
TOTAL (without loss).........11
A. Fudadin, M. Samuels, S. Chanderpaul, N. Deonarine, +D. Ramdin, *D. Sammy, S. Narine, K. Roach, T. Best to bat
Bowling: Boult 3-1-7-0; Bracewell 1-0-4-0; Southee 1-1-0-0
Position: West Indies trail by 249 runs with all first innings wickets standing
Toss: West Indies