Cricket: Onus on Black Caps' top order

By Andrew Alderson at Indore

Opener Martin Guptill is bowled on the second day of the second cricket test against India. Photo / AP
Opener Martin Guptill is bowled on the second day of the second cricket test against India. Photo / AP

Three of New Zealand's top seven batsmen - Ross Taylor, Martin Guptill and BJ Watling - average under 20 for the series ahead of today's third test against India in Indore.

Captain Kane Williamson acknowledged the onus goes on those players as part of the wider top order to deliver a first innings in excess of 300, and preferably 350.

"Certainly in the last two games if we could have pushed up our first innings total it would have helped a huge amount," he said. "They are senior players and you back them to put out the performances. It's not easy but they are working hard.

"There have been good performances from the likes of Tom Latham [average 33.75 including two half centuries], a young guy who hasn't spent much time playing in this part of the world."

Heavy rain has fallen at Indore in the last three days and humidity levels have dropped compared to Kolkata, meaning some acclimatisation advantages have swing back in the visitors' favour.

Williamson said big runs were no guarantee in the circumstances.

"You are presented with surfaces that perhaps don't require those 550-run first innings scores where batsmen look pretty. It is sometimes a matter of doing it tough.

"At the moment that 300 mark seems to be a pretty effective first innings total. It hasn't been [a series] where batters have shot 100s. Batsmen making 80 or above have made a significant contribution."

India's captain Virat Kohli said he's focused on engaging the crowd, as he did in Kolkata, particularly with the 30,000 capacity Holkar Stadium set to be sold out this weekend in its maiden test.

"One thing that stands out for me as a learning [from Kolkata] is how to control a session that's not going your way.

"When you are taking wickets, you can afford to attack. But when you are not taking wickets, how do you stop runs and maintain enough pressure to make breakthroughs?

"That's something important, which I've experienced in the four series I've captained. Responding in the session when the other team is batting well. You can't go one-dimensional when runs are scored."

For India, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is out with a back strain, meaning either Umesh Yadav will return or Shardul Thakur will debut.

Opener Gautam Gambhir replaced Shikhar Dhawan to play his first test in more than two years.

- NZ Herald

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