Taylor assault makes it New Zealand's day
New Zealand 328 for 6 (Taylor 113, van Wyk 63*, Guptill 53, Ojha 4-90) v India
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A sizzling counterattack by New Zealand captain Ross Taylor produced a high-speed century that sparked an improved display from the visitors on the opening day of the second Test against India. At stumps, New Zealand, who had elected to bat, were 328 for 6. Led by Taylor's incandescent 113, New Zealand's batsmen had, in the course of a single day, scored more runs than they had in both innings in Hyderabad.
Play was stopped due to bad light and eventually called off for the day about half an hour before the scheduled close, the umpires offering light to the batsman after Umesh Yadav bowled half of his first over with the second new ball. Kruger van Wyk and Doug Bracewell strode off, van Vyk batting on a deftly engineered 63 and Bracwell on 30. The two had found themselves at the crease after Taylor's departure, and within an hour had put on 82 for the seventh wicket.
Taylor's seventh Test century formed the bulk of the New Zealand batting effort. It was buffeted by two fifties, one by Martin Guptill at the top of the order which ended in dismay and the other by keeper van Wyk. It ensured that New Zealand could dismiss the innings and 115-run defeat in Hyderabad as a nightmare that need not be repeated.
After the departure of New Zealand's top three batsmen before lunch, Taylor let his aggression and intent take over. It was a fearless innings, the runs scored both robustly and in fine style. Taylor slog swept Ashwin for six before the lunch interval and when he returned, cranked the scoring up a gear. The India bowlers were hit all around the Chinnaswamy Stadium, with lusty slog sweeps, crisp straight drives and spanking shots through cover. New Zealand, or rather Taylor, was scoring at nearly seven runs an over in the hour after lunch. The hardworking Ojha was punished with four boundaries in his second over after lunch, Zaheer for two including a disdainful straight drive in his second spell, Ashwin was guided fine down to the boundary past leg slip. Taylor got to his century in 99 balls, cutting Ojha to the point boundary and two balls later, hit him down the ground for his second six over long-off.
For a captain who had a miserable first Test - losing the toss, dropping catches in slip and scoring nine in two innings - Taylor's innings on Friday was a more just exhibition of his batting abilities. On New Zealand's miserable tour of the West Indies in July, it was Taylor who had scored the sole New Zealand century, in the fourth ODI in St Kitts. New Zealand's previous Test century had come six months ago from Kane Williamson in a drawn Test against South Africa in Wellington.
Taylor's innings lit up the Bangalore crowd that grew through the day; his aggressive mode of batting had also been welcomed at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, when he had played for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL. The reception he received after his hundred against India, also, didn't lack in either enthusiasm or warmth.
It was vital for New Zealand that their batting continued forcefully, after Martin Guptill had shaken off the early dismissal of Brendon McCullum in the morning. Guptill played the aggressor in his 63-run second-wicket stand with Kane Williamson. After being troubled by Ojha and dropped off Zaheer on 17, Guptill found his groove, his innings resolute in judgement and positive in strokeplay. He struck three boundaries off Yadav in a single over and two off Zaheer, including a cracking backfoot drive through extra cover. Less than half an hour before lunch though, Ojha pulled in the fielders, tossed one up and lured Guptill. It was the perfect bait: the ball didn't turn, Guptill's intended shot on the on-side ended up in Gautam Gambhir's hands at midwicket. Despite India's slow bowling tradition, Ojha was the first specialist India spinner to open the bowling in a Test match, and took four of the six New Zealand wickets to fall today.
Taylor, who owned the second session, was out in the fifth over after tea, forced to sweep against Ojha with the off side plugged. The ball was tossed up and Ojha hit Taylor in front of off and middle. His innings of 113 off 127 balls had slowed down only at the fall of Daniel Flynn's wicket, bringing to an end New Zealand's biggest partnership on this tour: 107 runs for the fourth wicket. Flynn had hung on gamely over an hour for 33, but for the third time in three innings, was leg before trying to sweep Ashwin. The loss of James Franklin - he hit a full toss from Ojha to a diving Suresh Raina at midwicket - had New Zealand stuttering at 215 for 5.
But inspired by Taylor's bold batsmanship, the undefeated 82-run seventh-wicket partnership between van Wyk and Bracewell added 32 runs in five overs following the captain's departure. Van Wyk's was an innings almost patented by chirpy, pocket-sized keepers; he was only 12 when Taylor was out and took charge, happy to have the quicker bowlers bowling at one end. Zaheer Khan was guided past slips, van Wyk taking 13 off the 16 balls he faced off him, and the quick-but-struggling Yadav went for 14 runs in six balls, including two fours an over. The partnership took New Zealand past 300, but they will be sobered by the knowledge that in the previous Test held in Bangalore in 2010, Australia had scored over 400 in their first innings and still lost.
Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo