Cricket: Senior players step up in Kane Williamson's absence

By Andrew Alderson at Eden Gardens

Perhaps the most gratifying aspect to New Zealand's opening day of the second test at Kolkata was that the team endured and excelled without captain Kane Williamson.

The proof will be whether that sentence escapes the editor's cull after they bat, but it's not hard to imagine Williamson casting the odd glance at the telly from his sick bed and offering a wan smile of satisfaction that his workmates coped.

The key to surviving in yesterday's Williamson-less wilderness was the senior players.

Williamson is still learning the art of captaincy at international level, but the likes of Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Trent Boult and Jeetan Patel ensured the team's performed regardless, even during a wicketless middle session under a harsh sun and stifling humidity. During the 141-run Cheteshwar Pujara-Ajinkya Rahane fourth-wicket partnership, the whole game could have got off the leash.

Taylor's maturity stepping in as skipper was commendable, given his axing from the role in December 2012. The minutiae as to how this return unfolded will be explained in due course, but the fact he accepted at short notice showed wounds have healed, and he put team before self.

He looked composed, probably because he is a worldly 32 rather than a ripening 28 these days. The bowlers responded to his command, enabling attacking fields to be set for the most part.

Video

Latham showed why his fielding is as valuable as his batting with contrasting catches to remove Indian captain Virat Kohli and No.6 Rohit Sharma. Kohli flayed a Trent Boult delivery to gully and Sharma popped a chance to short leg from Jeetan Patel. Latham's comfort under the lid raises suspicions he might go to bed in it.

Boult exemplified the parsimony which built pressure. Half of his 16 overs were maidens, and he conceded 2.06 runs per over. His line kept tabs on off stump.

Patel showed no signs of jetlag after getting whisked across from England, perhaps a benefit of constant road trips during his years in the county championship with Warwickshire. His joy at taking two wickets was palpable in his return from a three year, eight month international hiatus.

With three more wickets the onus will go on the New Zealand batsmen to prove they can perform without their anchor. A solution to competing with India must be found beyond video analysis on the finger positions of Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to the practice of keeping out 'the straighter one'. Someone must find a way to counter.

On the bright side for New Zealand, the Eden Gardens wicket looks superb for second and third day batting. No excess purchase for Santner or Patel means playing Ashwin and Jadeja, at least in the first innings, might be less intimidating.

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 25 May 2017 08:30:24 Processing Time: 306ms