Ross Taylor led with an enterprising century as New Zealand clambered to a respectable position on the opening day of the second Test in Bangalore. This was a decidedly improved effort from the visitors, with none of the diffidence seen in Hyderabad. On view instead was a fine, attacking 113 by Taylor and assured fifties by Kruger van Wyk and Martin Guptill.
At stumps, drawn eight-and-a-half overs early owing to bad light, New Zealand was 328 for six — van Wyk (63) and Bracewell (30) the men at the crease.
India should be smarting at having let it slide, though. Taylor had been excised four overs after tea, and at 246 for six there was real hope of knocking the visitors over for fewer than 300.
Instead, van Wyk was allowed slack and he swept and pulled from all over. Prior to this game, the South Africa-born wicketkeeper had averaged 18 from 11 innings, with a best of 39. On Friday, he reeled off nine fours, cutting and slog-sweeping well. The pitch at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium offered turn, but nothing remarkable. Pragyan Ojha — who opened the bowling — finished with four for 90; the batsmen had boldly gone after him earlier in the day, but he reined it in either side of tea, producing a spell of 9-6-23-2.
Umesh Yadav, in contrast, had a vastly poor day; he struggled, first with line, and then with length, his generous short deliveries handled with ease. Yadav bled 71 runs from his 12.3 overs.
The day, though, was mostly about Taylor. On Thursday afternoon, he had graciously handled questions surrounding his poor form; he delivered a thumping riposte here. Early in his innings he slog-swept R. Ashwin for six, one ball after the bowler had beaten him.
A couple of drives off Ojha took the outer edge, but Taylor didn’t seem remotely shy. Going into lunch on 27, he took off upon resumption, hammering four boundaries off one Ojha over. He and Daniel Flynn compiled 107 runs for the fourth wicket. Their alliance was finally broken by Ashwin, who had Flynn leg-before yet again. The left-hander had found success with the sweep earlier, but failed on this occasion.
Taylor raised his hundred shortly before tea, to huge applause from a crowd very mindful of his RCB history. Arriving off 99 balls, it was the quickest by a Kiwi against India. It had helped the touring side go at nearly four an over in the afternoon session. The captain fell after the break, however, to Ojha, another lbw victim of the sweep.
That kind of a day
The morning’s play had begun under grey skies, but no gloom, it seemed, had rubbed off on Martin Guptill. He appeared sure of himself, crunching Zaheer Khan through the covers and hitting Ojha over the infield.
There was, however, one awkward moment when he edged Zaheer behind but Virat Kohli, who dived across from third slip when he should have left it for second, grassed the ball. It was to be that kind of day for Zaheer. He bowled with typically deft control, trapping Brendon McCullum in front in his first over, but found little luck thereafter.
Batsmen were squared up repeatedly, only the edges eluded.
Guptill, meanwhile, marched on delightfully — he can be quite pleasing to watch — taking three boundaries off one Yadav over. He jogged to his half-century off 62 balls, guiding Yadav to the third man boundary.
His dismissal, from that position of strength, felt disappointingly premature. Ojha had removed Kane Williamson (leg before) five overs earlier, when he tossed one up; Guptill, seeking to clear mid-on, thick-edged to Gautam Gambhir at midwicket. The 25-year-old had looked set for a century and was rightly livid with himself.
It was shortly before 4 p.m. when the players went off for bad light. It had threatened to rain all day and the skies duly opened up afterwards. Play will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday. There is still work to be done, but New Zealand will be relieved.
New Zealand – 1st innings: M. Guptill c Gambhir b Ojha 53 (79b, 8x4); B. McCullum lbw Zaheer 0 (5b); K. Williamson lbw Ojha 17 (44b, 2x4); R. Taylor lbw Ojha 113 (127b, 16x4, 2x6); D. Flynn lbw Ashwin 33 (53b, 6x4); J. Franklin c Raina b Ojha 8 (35b, 1x4); K. van Wyk (not out) 63 (85b, 9x4); D. Bracewell (not out) 30 (61b, 3x4); Extras (b-2, lb-9): 11.
Total (for six wickets in 81.3 overs) 328.
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (McCullum), 2-63 (Williamson), 3-89 (Guptill), 4-196 (Flynn), 5-215 (Franklin), 6-246 (Taylor)
India bowling: Ojha 27-10-90-4, Zaheer 18-2-74-1, Umesh 12.3-1-71-0, Ashwin 24-5-82-1