Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Colombo, 1st day November 25, 2012

Taylor, Williamson put New Zealand in control


New Zealand 223 for 2 (Taylor 119*, Williamson 95*) v Sri Lanka
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

In an otherwise one-sided tour, New Zealand finally took ownership of an entire day. Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor showed refreshing patience and application to wear down the Sri Lanka bowlers for the better part of three sessions to set a solid platform for a big score. All talk of a bouncy pitch and seaming conditions were put to rest as the bowlers struggled to create chances, with both batsmen adding an unbeaten 209.

One of the main reasons for New Zealand's slump in Test form was the inability of their batsmen to occupy the crease and build partnerships. New Zealand have only five century stands this year, the highest being 124 between Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum against Zimbabwe in Napier, until Taylor and Williamson overtook it, against a far superior bowling attack in foreign conditions.

Taylor, himself struggling for consistency, had spoken about taking an aggressive approach to help his side compete better. However, unlike his blistering century in the Bangalore Test, Taylor was more watchful and with Williamson focused on wearing down the bowlers. New Zealand were more watchful from the second session, offered no chances and that was largely because their defence was more watertight. Both progressed at similar pace, and while Taylor brought up his eighth Test century, Williamson was five short of his third century before rain forced an early finish.

The pair came together at 14 for 2 and it was an opportunity for New Zealand to put to practice all talk of showing better application with the bat. Taylor survived a few nervy moments, edging a drive wide of the slips on 14 and getting a thick inside edge off a square drive that went for four. A controlled upper cut over the slips got him going and it helped that Williamson got a measure of the conditions early and looked to be positive.

While Taylor looked edgy at the start, Williamson didn't. He began with a neat punch off Nuwan Kulasekara past the covers and once spin was introduced in the 15th over, he used his feet well. Rangana Herath posed questions straightaway when he got one to turn and grip from middle stump and nearly shave the off stump, one that had Williamson foxed. There weren't too many such unplayable deliveries as the day wore on. Williamson didn't let that trouble him as he charged Herath and lofted over mid-on and followed it up with a neat extra-cover drive.

Taylor reached his fifty in the first over after lunch with a glance to fine leg off Shaminda Eranga and Williamson approached his milestone with two boundaries off the same bowler. Sri Lanka bowled 14 consecutive overs of spin, with no success. Suraj Randiv operated with a slip and a backward short leg and managed turn and bounce but the batsmen managed to smother the turn. He even bowled to a 6-3 on-side field from round the wicket, with a deep backward square leg for the sweep but the batsmen didn't oblige. At one point, Herath had a short extra cover and a silly mid-off, but none of those field sets induced false strokes.

Only five boundaries were scored in the second session, as the pair focused on rotating the strike, with the field getting more defensive. Kulasekara, who was brought back into the attack after a long spell of spin, couldn't get the old ball to swing. An edged boundary to third man took Taylor into the 90s, but he wasn't in any hurry to reach his century, ensuring New Zealand went to tea unbeaten.

Taylor reached his century with a clip to deep square leg off Eranga and carried on with some pleasing drives off the fast bowlers. There was reverse swing after tea, but the batsmen negated it well. Williamson, who showed a lot of patience against the spinners, punched Herath against the turn to find the boundary that took him to the 90s.

The only time Sri Lanka tasted success was in the first half an hour. Guptill, already struggling for runs, managed a thick outside edge to Angelo Mathews at slip to give the hosts a breakthrough in the first over.

McCullum went forward to defend close to the pads but unfortunately, the umpire failed to spot a thick inside edge and sent him on his way. A peeved McCullum didn't hold back his glare at the umpire as he walked off at 14 for 2 in the fourth over. From then on, it was all New Zealand.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ajith on November 26, 2012, 4:55 GMT

    Pitches in Colombo are lively only during the first session of play.If you don't maximize the opportunities you are in for the long haul.Although the run rate was slow NZ have consolidated their position very well.Hopefully we will have a test match going for 5 days.

  • jared on November 26, 2012, 4:28 GMT

    finally some spine being shown and credit when its due, great work fella's more of the same please. we are realists us nz cricket fans, we don't expect the world of our team we just want to see them fight. also good to see a leg spinner finally get a go, some courage on the field and in the selections lets hope i havn't jinxed them and this great start isn't squandered

  • Dummy4 on November 26, 2012, 3:04 GMT

    Its very happy to see New Zealand doing well. They are less controversial, more hard working team among Test teams playing in Cricket. Its a sort of underdog story.

    I hope, this is a sign of many things to come in future for New zealand. They need to develop their test team around Kane Williamson, who seems to have sound technique and temperament for his age. They also need to develop a steady spin bowler to help their swing bowlers.

  • Nilantha on November 25, 2012, 19:32 GMT

    well done to taylor and williamson who put us to the sword today...they have showed their class...Come on SL lets have a fightback?

  • Lindsay on November 25, 2012, 17:30 GMT

    Excellent day for the Black Caps. Williamson looked so solid all day, apart from that one wicked delivery from Herath he had no issues with any of the bowlers. I can see him making a big one if he applies himself. Taylor, though edgy, showed patience and intent, and that drive to end the day was beautiful.

    You have to give credit to Taylor, as he has stood up and delivered for his team AGAIN. This is actually his third test century this year (to go with two ODI centuries and excellent form in the Twenty20 World Cup), and he has taken the blame for the string of poor results despite generally performing admirably this year.

  • David on November 25, 2012, 15:59 GMT

    As an Aussie, I always admire the Kiwis performances in Australia, where they tend to bring a steely determination to prove the pundits wrong. The Kiwis have tied two test series in Australia in the last dozen years, I recall, which is a better performance than many. They sadly aren't always as consistent. But today's performance was outstanding and deserves congratulation. Interesting that of the three tests currently underway around the world, many would have predicted very different outcomes but in each of the three captains are leading from the front. Like Clarke and Cook, Ross Taylor knows what he needs to do to put his side in front and the fact that he can achieve this shows he's a class act.

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2012, 15:41 GMT

    It looks like a Captains' day today: Captain Cook, Captain Tayler & Captain Clarke ... all made a mark, with their performances, and positively influenced their teams fortunes!

  • Dru on November 25, 2012, 15:14 GMT

    Finally NZ get in to a strong positon and finally the NZ batters deliver something. I expected this wicket to be a lot more lively but it looked fairly placid. I was surprised with selection from both teams. I would have thought the SL would have opted for Karunaratne over Paranavitharna given the his debut 50 and Paranavithara has not done much for a while. I also thought NZ would have selected an extra batter though in hindsight, this may now not seem neccessary.

  • Jordan on November 25, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    Best i've seen New Zealand playing in a long time!! Fighting every ball. playing with patience and grinding out an impressive total!! This is a world class performance so far, hopefully a sign of things to come. Fingers crossed we won't see the black caps of old come back.

    Keep fighting NZ!

    Williamson is looking like a class act, playing the ball perfectly! Taylor has looked to get out a few times, but hes still alive and playing some really nice strokes.

    This is an oppertunity to really put sri lanka under pressure. Build a big score and make sure theres only 2 possible results. A draw or win. get some respectability back!

  • dave on November 25, 2012, 12:38 GMT

    A day to savour. Will it last - recent history is against the odds.

  • No featured comments at the moment.