Cricket: Taylor's run-a-ball century gives NZ a big start

By Kris Shannon

New Zealand captain Ross Taylor on the way to his century against India last night.  Photo / AP
New Zealand captain Ross Taylor on the way to his century against India last night. Photo / AP

The day before the second test against India, with pressure on his team and even on his role, New Zealand captain Ross Taylor suggested a novel strategy.

To alleviate the tension and ensure his side didn't slip to a fourth straight test defeat, Taylor was going to attack.

Yesterday in Bangalore, he delivered, compiling a run-a-ball century as New Zealand's batsmen showed fight for the first time this series to be at 328-6 when bad light stopped play with 8.3 overs remaining.

Taylor yesterday urged his team to banish their batting woes by taking an aggressive approach to the crease, and he decided to lead by example.

He showed his intent early by hitting Ravi Ashwin, who took 12 wickets in the first test in Hyderabad, over the ropes in his second over.

Taylor stroked the ball to all corners of the ground he called home for three seasons while playing for the Royal Challengers in the IPL.

His 50 came off 46 balls and he seemed set to threaten his own record century - an 81-ball innings against Australia - before the nervous nineties kicked in.

When the milestone did arrive from 99 balls, it was the fastest ton by a New Zealander against India, coming with 16 fours and a six.

It was greeted by a cheer as loud as any reserved for an Indian from the crowd at M Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Taylor's onslaught achieved its aim - removing fielders from around the bat and putting the onus back on the Indian attack.

It also quieted doubters who had questioned his captaincy.

Before this innings, Taylor had notched only two centuries in 42 turns with the bat and, despite becoming Pragyan Ojha's fourth victim, out lbw when he was on 113, he would have felt a measure of relief.

Wicket-keeper Kruger van Wyk capitalised on trhe good start to post his maiden test half century and push the New Zealand total above 300.

Excluding the walkover against Zimbabwe to open the year, New Zealand have only once passed 300 in seven test matches.

It could have been even better for the tourists had their weakness not been further exposed by India's strength.

The Kiwi batsmen again struggled against the twin spin of the hosts, with Ojha and Ashwin picking up five of the six wickets to fall.

India captain MS Dhoni wasted no time in testing whether his opponents had improved from Hyderabad, handing the new ball to Ojha.

Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill survived but McCullum didn't last for long, trapped in front by Zaheer Kahn for a duck.

Guptill, though, laid the groundwork for Taylor's innings with an aggressive display of his own, bringing up New Zealand's second half century of the series.

The opener was also scoring at a rapid rate but, unlike Taylor, his offensive outburst eventually proved his undoing against Ojha.

Guptill has now lost his wicket to tweakers in six of his last seven innings.


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