Taylor stitches sparkling ton

Cricket : New Zealand put up gutsy show as Indian bowlers are made to toil on day one

Bengaluru: New Zealand's Ross Taylor after scoring a century during the first day of the second test match against India in Bengaluru on Friday. PTI Photo by Shailendra Bhojak(

Ross Taylor produced a blistering counter-attacking hundred, a study class in nullifying the Indian spinners. If some of his colleagues showed similar courage, conviction and desire, New Zealand could have ended the opening day of the second Test here at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on a far more satisfying note.

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s plea for a spin-friendly pitch didn’t fetch favourable results. But even on a flattish track the Kiwis had a mountain to climb, especially after that psychologically scarring innings and 115-run battering they received at Hyderabad.

They needed someone to show the way, and skipper Taylor took that responsibility upon himself. His philosophy was quite simple – play an attacking game as he was promised after the Hyderabad mauling. And how well that strategy paid off!

If New Zealand managed to reach 328 for six at close, they should profusely thank Taylor for sticking to his word, and the bravado of Kruger van Wyk, who made an unbeaten 63, and the resolve of Doug Bracewell (30 n.o). The duo has added precious 82 runs for the seventh-wicket, frustrating Indians further.

There wasn’t even an iota of negativity in Taylor’s approach while bringing up his seventh hundred (113, 127b, 16x4, 2x6) in Tests, and he wasn’t partial to any of the Indian bowlers. Zaheer was immaculately driven straight down the ground and through the extra cover, Umesh Yadav was flicked several times to square leg fence, Pragyan Ojha was carted for four fours in an over and R Ashwin was slog-swept over deep square leg for a six.

It, perhaps, was not the most convincing innings Taylor played, but who cares! His hundred was as thrilling an innings you will ever get to see in a Test match. These have been crisis days for New Zealand and Taylor, and it requires enormous amount of self-belief to play an innings of this nature in such times.

The Kiwis had recently lost the Test and one-day series against the West Indies, and despite an ODI hundred at Basseterre, Taylor’s form in the longer version was a matter of serious concern, giving the impression of massive potential getting wasted.

But on an overcast day, none of these external elements affected Taylor’s determination to shore up New Zealand. The Wellington man came to the crease after the visitors lost Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson for 63, and a pragmatic approach could have been the way forward for many others.

However, it wasn’t a day to follow common logic. With Martin Gupitll, who made a fine fifty after getting dropped off Zaheer Khan by Virat Kohli at slips on 17, an assured figure at the other end, Taylor went on overdrive from the first ball. India struck at the stroke of lunch, removing Guptill, but Taylor found Daniel Flynn a willing ally.

In the company of Flynn, the right-hander tore into Indian bowling, smashing 72 runs in
the first 10 overs of the post-lunch session and added 107 for the fourth wicket at more than four runs per over. Brutal indeed was the attack as the Indian bowlers, perhaps expecting another Kiwi capitulation, looked confounded in the face of an unexpected onslaught.

But it wasn’t just a mindless blitz as there was a wholesomeness to Taylor’s innings. Considered predominantly a leg-side player, the Kiwi was at ease scoring on the off-side as well, collecting 67 runs from that direction.

Taylor has every reason to be disappointed as well because either Guptill or James Franklin had showed a bit more application they would have added more creases on Dhoni’s forehead. Guptill played a rather careless drive off Pragyan Ojha to Gautam Gambhir at mid-wicket, and Franklin scooped a full toss on leg stump to Suresh Raina at mid-wicket.

Those two chancy wickets helped Indian bowlers, who otherwise had a rather modest outing, return with some relief after the day’s play was called off 30 minutes prior to the scheduled close due to bad light and rain.

But Taylor had already shone so brightly that it hardly mattered.

Score board

NEW ZEALAND (I Innings):

Guptil c Gambhir b Ojha    53
(102m, 79b, 8x4)
McCullum lbw Zaheer    0
(4m, 5b)
Williamson lbw Ojha    17
(74m, 44b, 2x4)
Taylor lbw Ojha    113
(127b, 16x4, 2x6)
Flynn lbw Ashwin    33
(74m, 53b 6x4)
Franklin c Raina b Ojha    8
(36m, 35b, 1x4)
Van Wyk (batting)    63
(90m, 85b, 9x4)
Bracewell (batting)    30
(72m, 61b, 3x4)

Extras (B-2, LB-9)    11

Total (for 6 wkts, 81.3 overs)    328

Fall of wickets: 1-0 (McCullum), 2-63 (Williamson), 3-89 (Guptil), 4-196 (Flynn), 5-215 (Franklin), 6-246 (Taylor).

Bowling: Ojha 27-10-90-4, Zaheer 18-2-74-1, Umesh 12.3-1-71-0, Ashwin 24-5-82-1.

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