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March 28, 2009
After struggling through the domestic season and missing the home series against West Indies, the good times are back for Chris Martin. When Yuvraj Singh edged him to Tim McIntosh at second slip, Martin became the fifth New Zealand bowler to take 150 Test wickets. He took two more before the end of the day to finish with figures of 3 for 89 and give New Zealand an excellent chance of levelling the series.
Looking back at the landmark, Martin said he didn't expect to get an opportunity this season after question-marks about his form. "Sort of around December I wasn't thinking that I would be able to get back and get another crack at it. I suppose the graft this summer has been to get on the park against India and do well," said Martin.
He indicated the pitch in Napier did offer some assistance and that the new ball had proved to be crucial. "I think with the new ball occasionally you get one to stand up and do a little bit more than perhaps with the older ball," he said. "But I think it's still a pretty good wicket, the odd one I suppose is a little bit low or little bit high, but I don't think that's going to come into play yet.
"The way the modern player plays is to hit boundaries, and it's the same with the Indian batsmen. If you put it full enough and out there, they back their ability to hit it to the boundary. I suppose you have got be a little bit more calculative, take your time, and make sure you have got used to the conditions before you play those shots. The new ball definitely put some doubt in the players' minds."
He believed the big difference in the New Zealand side between the first Test in Hamilton and Napier had been the maturity level in batting. "It's given everyone a huge life to watch three guys [Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum] play with the level of confidence and maturity and actually stay at the crease for that amount of time. That has been the major difference, and any side that's coming in, perhaps with 600 to chase, is going to find it a little bit more tough.
He also praised the spin department and their part in edging New Zealand closer to their first Test win in Napier. "[The spinners were] exceptionally important. Dan [Vettori] basically attacks and Jeetan [Patel] operates the same way. If you can keep a quality player from getting his fix from the boundary, it puts a lot of pressure on him. The scoreboard doesn't go anywhere. When you do pick up wickets, it tends to stagnate sides. I am pretty sure tomorrow will be the same plan and keep the pressure on."
Martin said that despite the heavy defeat in Hamilton, the players still believed they could turn it around before the start of the second Test. "There was belief, but to actually go and do it, and to actually have the best of last three days, is something we all aspire to do," he said. "We are half there. The hard graft is to actually back it up tomorrow."
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