New Zealand v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Wellington, 1st day January 15, 2011

Taylor disappointed with New Zealand's lack of application

Tests at the Basin Reserve have lately made a cruel habit of exposing the fragility of New Zealand's batting. In the six most recent matches at the venue, the home side have mustered an average first innings total of 196. Of these, they have lost four and won just one - against Bangladesh in 2008. While they have performed marginally better this time around, 260 for six on day one on a flat Wellington wicket, while the opposition bowlers battled gusts exceeding 80 kph at one end, is not the kind of patience and discipline John Wright would have hoped for from his top order after their farcical collapse in Hamilton.

Martin Guptill threw it away flashing at a wide one, James Franklin was needlessly caught behind down the legside and Jesse Ryder collected his second golden duck in a row, prodding lamely at a delivery he could have easily watched through to the keeper. Even Ross Taylor, New Zealand's top scorer on day one, was out to an injudicious stroke, chasing a wide Wahab Riaz delivery to give Adnan Akmal his fifth scalp of the day. "There were some missed opportunities," Taylor said. "A couple of players were a bit unlucky and were almost bored out. There were a few wide ones, and myself and Guptill - we did all the hard work and got ourselves out."

Taylor made 78 to steady the New Zealand innings after two early blows, cautiously blocking out Abdur Rehman's left-arm spin from the Scoreboard End instead of being tempted to unleash his signature slog sweep. "I tried to play as straight as possible. When you are searching for form, you look for other things and forget the basics. But when you play straight you give yourself the best chance. I haven't felt out of nick, but I just haven't scored the runs. Today was an opportunity where I should have gone on and got three figures, and I didn't do that."

Pakistan will feel they have the better of the hosts heading into day two, despite allowing Reece Young and Daniel Vettori to dictate terms to them in the closing stages. The Wellington wind was at its most relentless on day one, and a tired Pakistan fielding unit lapsed repeatedly in the evening session, allowing the New Zealand pair to move the score along smartly. "We are probably [down] one or two wickets too many," Taylor admitted. "But we saw at the end there with the wind, the bowling side is always going to get tired and Youngy and Dan made the most of that at the end of the day."

With Vettori and Young batting well, a trademark lower-order fight-back could well be on the cards for New Zealand, but they will have to see out the Pakistan seamers in the morning to give their side hope of posting a competitive total. "We just wanted to bat four sessions," Taylor said. "We've batted three so far so hopefully we can bat till after lunch tomorrow. It's going to be tough for that first five to ten overs with that new ball, but if we can get through that then a score of 300 plus is very much in our reach."

The visitors employed defensive field placements early on and waited for the New Zealand batsmen to make mistakes. A similar ploy might well be enough to account for a Pakistan top order that is no less unstable, if a tad more experienced, than the New Zealand line-up.

"Whatever total we end up with, we've got to decide where to bowl. Perhaps a touch fuller." Taylor said. "Maybe almost do what they did to us. The spinner was always going to bowl very flat and they put the sweeper out very quickly when they were bowling from the top end. I wouldn't say it was negative, but it was almost trying to bore you out. It's still a very good wicket."

Andrew Fernando writes for The Pigeon and blogs here

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