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July 25, 2012
Ross Taylor, the New Zealand captain, believes his team remains on top in the first Test against West Indies despite two late wickets from Sunil Narine. New Zealand ended the day at 232 for 4 but a few overs earlier they had been 223 for 2, before Darren Sammy's decision to stick with the old ball paid off when Narine bowled Taylor for 45 and then denied a century to Martin Guptill, who skied a catch to mid-on for 97.
The breakthroughs took some of the gloss off an impressive day for New Zealand, whose batting in the warm-up match on the same ground was disappointing. But on a pitch that is expected to become more difficult for batting as the match wears on, Taylor said he was happy with the way the New Zealanders had performed on the first day of the series.
"I think we're on top," Taylor said. "I'm sure they would have liked to have got a few more wickets. I guess the momentum shift a little bit, getting two wickets with myself and Guptill, they would have been a little bit more happy with the day. But I think we're on top and it's going to be a hard batting track out there in the third and fourth innings, so we need to score a lot of runs in this first innings.
"It's not a total [that is our target]. It's more if we can still be batting … at tea we'll have a sufficient total on the board. It is quite hot out there and hopefully we can keep them out there as long as possible, all going well."
Taylor was especially pleased with the way the openers, Guptill and Daniel Flynn, fought through the new ball to put on 97 for the first wicket. It was just the second time in eight years that a New Zealand opening pair had reached lunch on the first day of a Test with their wickets intact, and it was all the more impressive given that Flynn batted through illness.
"They batted very well," Taylor said. "Flynny was a bit sick out there and he gutsed it out, and he scored a good 40 and it's not often our opening partnerships go wicketless in the first session, so that's a positive for us and hopefully they can continue to do that. [Flynn had] just a sore tummy. He was spewing up and things."
Eventually, both openers fell to the spin of Narine, who ended the day with 3 for 73, including his first wicket in Test cricket. He bowled 28 overs and Taylor said the batsmen had found him easier to handle than in the limited-overs games, despite his late wickets.
"Red ball and white ball are totally different," he said. "Red ball, we don't have to go after him, he has to come and get us. With the white ball we have to attack him and it showed today that if you sit on him, he goes searching. He picked up a couple of wickets towards the end there, but I thought the way we played him was very good and if we can continue that good work then we can get a sizeable total tomorrow."
Narine said it had been hard work for the bowlers on the first day, but West Indies were happy with how the day had ended.
"It's a very good wicket to bat on," Narine said. "I think once you put down your head and but I don't think it's much of a problem. There's a little bounce and turn in the wicket but you still have to pitch the ball in the right areas. We're happy the way the day has finished. The way New Zealand started it could have been worse. So we'll take this and come out fighting tomorrow."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Pataudi Jr caught a young English fan's fancy for his princely ways and his heroic batting