Cricket: NZ aggression creates advantage

By Kris Shannon of APNZ in Bangalore

Ross Taylor will rightfully get the plaudits but the groundwork was laid for his run-a-ball century by an equally aggressive Martin Guptill yesterday. Photo / Getty Images.
Ross Taylor will rightfully get the plaudits but the groundwork was laid for his run-a-ball century by an equally aggressive Martin Guptill yesterday. Photo / Getty Images.

Ross Taylor will rightfully get the plaudits but the groundwork was laid for his run-a-ball century by an equally aggressive Martin Guptill yesterday.

Guptill charged out of the blocks in the second test against India, shrugging off the early loss of opening partner Brendon McCullum to set the tone for a bold performance by the beleaguered Black Caps batsmen.

Aggressive innings followed from Taylor, who notched his seventh test ton, and wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk, who brought up a maiden half century.

The three men, along with some assistance from Daniel Flynn and Doug Bracewell, saw New Zealand through to 328-6 when bad light brought to a close the opening day in Bangalore.

Guptill revealed an aggressive approach to the side's batting was plotted before the match, and he was pleased with the way he and his teammates implemented the plan.

"We had a meeting as a batting group and we said we wanted to go out with positive intent,'' he said. "I think we executed that quite well today and we've put up a very good first day for us.''

It was the Black Caps' best day of the series - by some distance - and was the perfect response to the storm of criticism the side's batsmen faced after their duel capitulations in Hyderabad.

In fact, the effort with the bat rates among the best of the year for this test team (perhaps something of an indictment). Excluding the early summer romp over Zimbabwe, New Zealand have surpassed 300 in an innings only once in seven matches.

The turnaround from the first test thumping was due to three factors, according to Guptill _ their own aggression, some looser bowling from the hosts and friendlier conditions for batting at M Chinnaswamy Stadium.

"It's definitely a different wicket here,'' Guptill said. "There's not as much turn and bounce for the spinners which helped us a little bit.

"There were also a few loose balls that we were able to put away and that put a bit of pressure on them.''

Guptill began that trend with an opening foray in which he made the most of a life in the slips before pressing on to reach his team's second half century of the series.

After scoring three fifties without being able to convert the start into a big score in the Black Caps' recent tour of the Caribbean, Guptill was disappointed with his dismissal.

"It's a little bit frustrating but that's the way cricket goes. Sometimes you kick on and get a big score and other times you get out when you're only halfway there.''

Luckily for him, Taylor managed to kick on to put New Zealand in a promising position to arrest a three-test losing streak and claim a victory in India for the first time since 1988.

"It's going to be interesting,'' Guptill said of the second day, starting at 4pm (NZT). "If we can go out and keep our positive intent up, hopefully we can get up around the 400-450 mark and that's going to put a bit of pressure on India.

"Then, if our bowlers can get a bit of swing and a bit of seam movement off this wicket, hopefully we can exploit that.''

- APNZ

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