Review leaves Test evenly placed - Ross Taylor
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When Simon Taufel gave Brendon McCullum lbw off the penultimate ball in Dunedin, Pakistan appeared to have separated New Zealand's last reliable batsmen and won the day. McCullum, however, asked for a review and Taufel changed his decision after replays showed the ball hitting pad just outside off stump. It was a vital moment; one that Ross Taylor believed left the Test "evenly placed" at stumps on the first day.
"The last decision going our way helped us immensely," Taylor said. "The partnership between Daniel [Vettori] and Brendon [McCullum] has probably put us back in the match. Being 200 for 6 at the end of the day's play would have favoured Pakistan, but 270 for 6, I think it's pretty even."
Taylor's fighting 94 propped up New Zealand after the loss of two early wickets before a mini-collapse, during which they lost three wickets for 19 runs. McCullum and Vettori then added 65 for the seventh wicket to help the hosts recover before the scare in the final over.
Earlier in the day Pakistan had also referred a close lbw shout against Taylor, which was ruled in the batsman's favour when he was on 54. After two reviews went New Zealand's way on the first day of the new system's implementation, Taylor was happy with it.
"I have seen it [the first referral] since I have been out, it was a little bit closer than I thought," he said. "When I first got hit I thought it was high and might have even hit outside the line. As it worked out, the umpire made the right decision and I suppose I am happy for that. With the referrals system, last year, we had a few that did not go in our favour and today we had a couple go our way, so it is good at the moment."
Taylor began his innings after New Zealand were reduced to 27 for 2 in the sixth over and survived a testing period against the seamers. He got hit on the body thrice by Mohammad Aamer, kept getting beaten outside off by Mohammad Asif, and scored only 6 off his first 44 balls. However, he settled in and forged a 117-run partnership with Martin Guptill. Taylor didn't make it to 100, though, edging Saeed Ajmal to first slip on 94.
"Obviously the goal as a batsman is to get to three figures. To be very close in the end, but not close enough is disappointing," Taylor said. "But I can't really complain too much. The shot I played in the end wasn't a poor shot. You are going to play and miss on that wicket occasionally, and you just hope you don't nick it.
"It has been a struggle over the last month and a half. [I have] been working hard on my game with various people over the last week or so. It is always good when you put in the hard work and get some reward."
Taylor had words for encouragement for Martin Guptill who batted well in his company to stabilise the innings. Guptill too failed to capitalise on his start, perishing for 60 by top-edging a pull off Aamer.
"Yeah, I thought he batted very well," Taylor said. "He has had a few starts over his career, so it is good for him to go on and get past 50. But I'm sure he will also be disappointed with getting out for 60, doing all the hard work. Hopefully we can both kick on in the second innings."
The pitch will play a crucial role over the course of this Test and Taylor said that the bounce would be unpredictable. "There are some bare patches and a lot of grass. So some get through and some don't. Not all balls carried through to Kamran Akmal, so obviously that's going to play a part over the next four days. Hopefully we can learn from that and hopefully maybe just bowl a little straighter for a consistent period."