Need to attack India spinners - Taylor
During his time at IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore, Ross Taylor quickly established himself as a fan favourite due to the ease and frequency with which his swipes cleared the mid-wicket boundary. Back in Bangalore as captain of a stuttering New Zealand outfit, he'll have to play more in the manner he did at the pre-match press conference: with a straight bat. Nearly every question Taylor was asked dealt either with New Zealand's dip in form or his own lack of big scores. All of which he answered with tact and optimism.
Taylor was asked whether his side would be satisfied with a draw in Bangalore, a result most observers would call a reasonable achievement for the underdogs as they haven't won a Test in India since 1988. Taylor acknowledged the challenge ahead but remained positive. "In a Test match, we go session by session. In the last three or four Tests, (we have realised) it only takes one bad session to ruin a Test. So we don't want to look too far ahead. And, we're still in the series, we have not won many Tests in India and we need to be brave and courageous in the way we go in this Test. We have nothing to lose."
Taylor called for a similarly adventurous approach to overcome New Zealand's biggest weakness on this tour, the indecisive batting against the spinners. "(We have to) attack Ashwin and [Pragyan] Ojha and hopefully put pressure back on them. And when we attack them, there hopefully won't be many men around the bat."
In the past 12 months, New Zealand's misfiring batsmen have put up a 300-plus total only three times, including twice against also-rans Zimbabwe. It is the sort of record that prompted some stinging criticism from former New Zealand coach Mark Greatbatch, who earlier this week questioned whether New Zealand's batsmen were taking on board what they were being taught. Taylor refused to be drawn into saying whether the comments were justified. "Our biggest critics are ourselves," Taylor said. "Everyone is entitled to their opinions. I myself am very hard on myself. No matter what others say, I was very disappointed in the way I played."
Taylor has a massive role to play in New Zealand's brittle middle-order, especially in the absence of Jesse Ryder and Daniel Vettori. The manner of his second-innings dismissal in Hyderabad - bowled after shouldering arms to an offspinner from Ashwin - will rankle, and adds to a dismal recent record, with only two Test centuries in his previous 30 innings stretching back to March 2010.
Taylor held out hope of an upswing in his batting form. "Two hundreds in 30 innings is not great, but I feel I'm not far away from scoring runs. I'm working hard. When you score two centuries in 30 innings, sometimes you score two in two games. So you never know."
Besides winning over sceptical former players and critics in the media, Taylor has an added reason to perform in Bangalore. "Mackenzie has been to 2 games, I've scored 11, 0, 2 and 7," he tweeted. "Thinks it's time I showed my daughter that I can bat."
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo