Ross Taylor hopes for improved batting in Napier
New Zealand's batting is in disarray. Their top three average less than 20 in the series against Pakistan with one - Tim McIntosh - averaging less than ten. Their reliance on the No. 4, Ross Taylor, has been tremendous and thankfully for New Zealand, he has delivered.
Taylor averaged 70 after the first two Tests with three half-centuries in four innings. While his team-mates - Martin Guptill, McIntosh and Daniel Flynn - foundered against Pakistan's three-man pace attack, and Mohammad Asif in particular, Taylor has succeeded. The only criticism against him is that he hasn't converted his fifties into hundreds.
"The thing is getting forward," Taylor told NPZA. "He [Asif] has been the pick of their bowlers, the most consistent the whole time. There hasn't been a conscious decision to go out and hit him. I just try to see the ball and react to it really.
"I don't mean go out there and smash the ball, it's being positive in defence, positive in a leave and if there's a half volley or a short, wide one .... have the confidence to put that away even if you're not feeling that great.
"I guess every time I've batted in this series, we've lost early wickets and been under pressure the whole time. That's just part of cricket. Hopefully this next deck in Napier is batter friendly and we can get a good start and work from there."
After two consecutive batting collapses - 153 in Dunedin and 99 in Wellington - and another ordinary one in the final innings of the second Test, New Zealand were forced to rethink their batting line-up. However, they preferred not to make wholesale changes and axed only Peter Fulton, bringing in Northern Districts batsman BJ Watling. Taylor said he had been impressed by Watling's work ethic and technique.
Watling scored 90 and 136 in the latest round of Plunket Shield matches and will form a new opening combination with McIntosh while Martin Guptill drops down to No. 3. "I feel good at the crease - I'm moving well and feeling confident. I'm working on playing the ball late, and having good positive intent with my feet," Watling said. "I went to Dubai and played a couple of Twenty20s against them [Pakistan] so I know what they're like. That was good experience coming into this match."
The three-Test series is level at 1-1 and the last match starts on December 11 at McLean Park in Napier.