Cricket: Much more at stake for Black Caps

By Kris Shannon of APNZ in Bangalore

Staring down the barrel of a fourth straight test defeat, New Zealand captain Ross Taylor knows cricket's credibility in this country is at stake when the second test against India starts this afternoon.

In addition to combating a dominant home side in their own conditions, Taylor and his team will also be facing up to their fans, critics and own expectations when play begins in Bangalore at 4pm (NZT).

After heavy losses in the West Indies were compounded by humiliation in Hyderabad earlier in the week, patience is wearing thin among the cricketing public.

The typical furore greeted the Black Caps' innings and 115 run loss in the opening match - talkback lines running red hot, outrage on social networks and former players being trotted out to stick in the boot.

That, while concerning, wouldn't worry the New Zealand team as much as another reaction to their recent futile streak, one that is developing further with every disappointment - one of apathy.

No one likes being beaten but being ignored is even worse.

So Taylor or his charges have their work cut out for them over the next five days (hopefully), battling not just the spin of Ravi Ashwin but a growing disinterest in this side when playing the longest form of the game.

"When you lose a few tests matches in a row, you've disappointed yourself, your family and the fans,'' Taylor said.

"It's another opportunity to try to repay a bit of faith. Playing for your country's always enjoyable and hopefully we can show that we do care out there in the next five days.''

As for the barrage of criticism which rightfully followed the Hyderabad horror, Taylor insisted it was nothing compared to the self-evaluation which went on within the team following the defeat.

"Myself and the team, our biggest critics are ourselves,'' he said. "I'm very hard on myself, no matter what anyone else says.

"I was very disappointed in the way I played (scores of two and seven) and hopefully I can show I learned something come this next innings.''

Taylor said it was no mean feat for the team to expunge from their minds a performance of that nature, but it was vital to do so. If not, it would weigh heavily on the players when they get to the middle at M Chinnaswamy Stadium and that's the last thing they need if amendments are to be made.

Among those amendments was a change in mindset with a focus on batsmen expressing confidence. It might sound a lot like playing with fire given the stroke-makers in the side, but Taylor said it was essential.

"We've got to be as confident as possible. We know we're going to be under pressure in this test match. It's acknowledging that and not fearing it.

"It's going out there and playing your own natural game and finding ways of scoring a few. Let's not die wondering.''

That could be a recipe for disaster, or it could be the formula that results in New Zealand's first test victory in India since 1988.

Whatever the outcome, Taylor had a message for the fans - don't give up on this team just yet.

"Test cricket is always tough and it's character building,'' he said. "We're learning a lot, both on and off the field, about each other and about the team.

"New Zealand are normally fighters and we'll be trying to fight as hard as we can, one session at a time.''


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