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High drama as Kiwi debutant notches ton

His teammates might not have any fingernails left but first-gamer Tom Blundell eventually made the nervous wait worthwhile

It was surely the tensest hour of his cricket career but New Zealand's debutant wicketkeeper Tom Blundell has made history on day three of the first Test against West Indies.

After spending 10 nail-biting overs in the 90s featuring numerous close calls with No.11 Trent Boult, Blundell finally reached triple figures to become the first Black Caps' gloveman to make a century on debut.

With the Kiwis resuming day three on 9-447, the right-hander – on 57 overnight – made his intentions clear as he crashed 10 off Miguel Cummins' opening over of the day.

At the other end, Boult stoically defied the visitors’ attack with his famously unusual batting technique delighting the Basin Reserve crowd as much as Blundell's frequent blows.

Boult and Blundell put on an unbeaten 78 for the last wicket // Getty
Boult and Blundell put on an unbeaten 78 for the last wicket // Getty

Blundell survived a review for lbw on 82 with captain Jason Holder's height counting against him but as the hosts stretched their lead past 350 and ticked their first-innings tally into the 500s, carefree attack gave away to nervy survival.

There was more drama when Boult, with his partner on 98, was struck on the back leg by off-spinner Roston Chase as Holder reviewed again.

The tail-ender survived, and after two more anxious overs that yielded just one run (a wide), Blundell thought he'd reached his century when he worked one down to fine leg – only for Boult to wisely send him back after they ran a single.

Roles were reversed an over later when Blundell, now 99, blocked out a maiden over and sent an eager Boult scrambling back on the final ball to leave their teammates – with cameras trained on them for the inevitable reaction of either joy or dismay - in agony.

Those feelings were heightened when Boult was dropped at short leg and then survived a desperate review in the space of three balls.

But Blundell finally had his moment of ecstasy when he unconvincingly squirted Chase away for two and celebrated his maiden century – a near flawless knock aside from the late drama – in  somewhat sheepish fashion.

Blundell celebrates his maiden Test century // Getty
Blundell celebrates his maiden Test century // Getty

The 27-year-old gloveman, who only played the Test due to a hip injury to regular keeper BJ Watling, crashed a six two balls later before relieved skipper Kane Williamson declared New Zealand's first dig a short time later with the hosts holding a mammoth lead of 386. The Blundell-Boult 10th wicket stand ended unbeaten on 78.

Blundell's was the second century of NZ's first innings, after No.7 Colin de Grandhomme smashed 105 off just 74 balls on day two.