They say that one swallow doesn't make a summer, and nor does one good day of test cricket make a mediocre team good. But the Black Caps will be pleased with their position after Day One of the second test against India at Bangalore; Cricinfo reports:
A sizzling counterattack by New Zealand captain Ross Taylor produced a high-speed century that sparked an improved display from the visitors on the opening day of the second Test against India. At stumps, New Zealand, who had elected to bat, were 328 for 6. Led by Taylor's incandescent 113, New Zealand's batsmen had, in the course of a single day, scored more runs than they had in both innings in Hyderabad.Play was stopped due to bad light and eventually called off for the day about half an hour before the scheduled close, the umpires offering light to the batsman after Umesh Yadav bowled half of his first over with the second new ball. Kruger van Wyk and Doug Bracewell strode off, van Vyk batting on a deftly engineered 63 and Bracwell on 30. The two had found themselves at the crease after Taylor's departure, and within an hour had put on 82 for the seventh wicket.Taylor's seventh Test century formed the bulk of the New Zealand batting effort. It was buffeted by two fifties, one by Martin Guptill at the top of the order which ended in dismay and the other by keeper van Wyk. It ensured that New Zealand could dismiss the innings and 115-run defeat in Hyderabad as a nightmare that need not be repeated.After the departure of New Zealand's top three batsmen before lunch, Taylor let his aggression and intent take over. It was a fearless innings, the runs scored both robustly and in fine style. Taylor slog swept Ashwin for six before the lunch interval and when he returned, cranked the scoring up a gear. The India bowlers were hit all around the Chinnaswamy Stadium, with lusty slog sweeps, crisp straight drives and spanking shots through cover. New Zealand, or rather Taylor, was scoring at nearly seven runs an over in the hour after lunch. The hardworking Ojha was punished with four boundaries in his second over after lunch, Zaheer for two including a disdainful straight drive in his second spell, Ashwin was guided fine down to the boundary past leg slip. Taylor got to his century in 99 balls, cutting Ojha to the point boundary and two balls later, hit him down the ground for his second six over long-off.For a captain who had a miserable first Test - losing the toss, dropping catches in slip and scoring nine in two innings - Taylor's innings on Friday was a more just exhibition of his batting abilities. On New Zealand's miserable tour of the West Indies in July, it was Taylor who had scored the sole New Zealand century, in the fourth ODI in St Kitts. New Zealand's previous Test century had come six months ago from Kane Williamson in a drawn Test against South Africa in Wellington.Taylor's innings lit up the Bangalore crowd that grew through the day; his aggressive mode of batting had also been welcomed at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, when he had played for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL. The reception he received after his hundred against India, also, didn't lack in either enthusiasm or warmth.
Ross Taylor indeed played a terrific innings, refusing to allow the Indian bowlers to tie him down. The Indians had strangled New Zealand at Hyderabad, albeit on a very helpful spinners' pitch. But the extra pace and bounce of the first-day Bangalore track gave Taylor the confidence to take the game to India. And the skipper's example rubbed off on those around him, especially in the latter part of the day.
There were still frailties; Martin Guptill played well to get past 50, but again switched off, and gave his wicket away. Daniel Flynn succumbed to the sweep shot again, and James Franklin simply mis-hit a full toss to midwicket.
Even at 246 for six, New Zealand was still in danger of not capitalising on Taylor's innings. But a determined and unbeaten 82 run stand between Kruger van Wyk and Doug Bracewell took the Black Caps to a position of relative strength when bad light ended the day early.
It's fair to say that van Wyk has yet to deliver with the bat at test level, but he mixed a typical wicketkeeper's square-of-the-wicket agression with some solid defence to bring up his first half-century in tests. And a long innings has an added bonus for a 'keeper; he gets a feel for the pace and bounce of the pitch, and generally sees the ball a lot better when he dons the gloves later on.
Doug Bracewell continues to impress with the bat. It doesn't yet show in his test average, but Bracewell has a sound technique as he showed at Wellington back in March when he and Kane Williamson batted out an unlikely draw against South Africa. We predict that like his Uncle John, he will leave test cricket (in a long time, we hope) with at least one test century to his name. His confidence will grow with each long innings that he plays.
We hope that van Wyk and Bracewell can advance their partnership when play starts early at 3.30pm this afternoon. A first innings score approaching or beyond 400 would be a good outcome.
One thing is for sure though; having been born in the year when New Zealand was dismissed for 26 at Eden Park, we've followed the New Zealand cricket team for a long time and in good times and bad, and that support will continue. To paraphrase 10CC; we don't like cricket; we love it!