Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Cricket: Cautious Taylor praises Williamson's effort

Unbeaten century maker Ross Taylor is not surprisingly remaining cautious despite a dominant first day of the second test from New Zealand against Sri Lanka.

Black Caps captain Taylor, on 119, and Kane Williamson, unbeaten on 95, displayed real patience and resolve against the Sri Lankan attack at Colombo, qualities which have been sorely lacking this year from their team.

Taylor and Williamson came together with New Zealand in trouble again at 14-2, the pair walking off due to rain 40 minutes before the scheduled stumps time with the score 223-2, a partnership of 209.

After scoring the eighth ton of his career, the New Zealand skipper played down his role with the bat but praised 22-year-old Williamson's effort.

SCOREBOARD

"Kane has struggled a bit in recent times and for him to come out and play like he did, it's a credit to him,'' Taylor said. "He's a young player who is still learning his game. He worked very hard during the week and it's good when someone does work very hard that they get some rewards.

Once again, he's still got to go on tomorrow but I'm very pleased for him.''

The need for New Zealand to kick on tonight (NZT) was a recurring theme from Taylor, who has seen plenty of capitulations after his side have been in good positions.

He is also aware the Black Caps need many more runs if they are to post a good first innings score - they are playing only five specialist batsmen and Sri Lanka have a powerful batting lineup.

"We need to knuckle down and the first two hours will be critical tomorrow,'' Taylor said.
"It is pretty flat,'' he said of the pitch. "You've still get to get yourself in but cricket's a funny game and the new ball tomorrow is going to be key and Kane is close to a hundred.''

The Sri Lankan bowlers struggled to trouble Taylor and Williamson after the early dismissals of Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum, although they weren't helped by the defensive fields set by captain Mahela Jayawardene.

Left-armer Rangana Herath, who took 11 wickets in New Zealand's disintegration in the first test at Galle, held few terrors last night, although wisely Taylor wasn't about to write him off.

"He can still get 11 wickets so we don't want to get too carried away. He spun the ball in the first over but there wasn't a lot of turn for him. He will still play a big part in this test match but hopefully the way Kane and I played him, the rest of the team can get a bit of confidence from that. He's a world class bowler and he will come back stronger and hopefully we can keep going at him like we did today.''

Taylor felt the New Zealand spinners could have a liking for the pitch.

"Hopefully the wicket will deteriorate a bit more and Jeetan Patel and Todd Astle on debut can make the most of a wearing wicket.''

Meanwhile Taylor was just happy to get through a day in a positive mood after a run of five consecutive test losses.

"It's nice to get through, not quite a full day, but as close to a full day as we've had for a while.''

The partnership from Taylor and Williamson was easily the best by a New Zealand pair this year, beating the 124 set by Guptill and McCullum against Zimbabwe in January, and only the fifth partnership of more than 100 in 2012.

The second day will start 15 minutes early, at 5.15pm (NZT) due to last night's early finish.

- APNZ

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