Bangalore: Captain Ross Taylor launched a stunning counter-attack with a blistering 113 as New Zealand showed great fighting spirit to recover from early jolts in the second Test here on Friday.
Taylor notched up his seventh Test century to pull his team out of trouble and guided New Zealand to a respectable 328 for 6 on the opening day before bad light stopped play at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. It was a vastly improved batting display by the visiting team, who were bundled out cheaply in both the innings of the first Test in Hyderabad.
Taylor showed the way as he led from the front by being more aggressive against the spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha who could not extract much turn from the first day track. Wicketkeeper batsman Kruger van Wyk (63) and Doug Bracewell (30) were at the crease at stumps on a day which saw a record score being put up by a visiting team on day one at this stadium.
Opener Martin Guptill (53) and Daniel Flynn (33) were the other notable contributors who showed a greater application against the spinners after deciding to bat first. The visitors were at a shaky 89 for 3 at one stage before Taylor and Flynn resurrected the innings with a 107-run fourth wicket partnership.
Taylor, who failed in both the innings in Hyderabad, unleashed a flurry of strokes as the runs came at a brisk pace right through the day. Taylor clobbered 16 boundaries and two sixes in his 127-ball knock. Ojha was the pick of the Indian bowlers by taking four wickets for 90 runs while Zaheer Khan and Ashwin chipped in with a wicket each.
When play stopped, Wyk and Bracewell had put up a resilient 82-run partnership for unbroken seventh wicket. After tea, Ojha and Zaheer kept Taylor and van Wyk on a tight leash. Ojha bowled three successive maidens before dismissing Taylor who went for the sweep to a tossed up delivery and was trapped in front of the middle stump.
Once Taylor left the scene, Wyk attacked the Indian bowlers. The stocky batsman played some courageous shots, pulling and cutting Indian bowlers to the fence with elan. Wyk quickly reached to his fifty in 60 balls with seven fours. He had started slowly, scoring 12 runs in 36 balls.
At the other end, Bracewell dropped anchor which infused confidence in Wyk to take on Indian bowlers. Ashwin, who had bagged 12 wickets in the first Test in Hyderabad, looked out of sorts picking up one wicket of Daniel Flynn.
Taylor and Flynn played aggressively before tea, dispatching loose deliveries as Indian bowlers struggled to contain the run flow. Taylor was especially severe on Ashwin and Ojha, and to some extent Zaheer, clobbering them all over the park.
In an over, the Taylor belted four boundaries in Ojha's over and raced to his 17th Test half-century, which came off 46 balls. Flynn supported his skipper to put on their first 100 runs partnership of the match. Both stitched a brisk 107 runs partnership in 113 balls taking New Zealand to 196 for 3.
There was a setback for New Zealand when the dangerous-looking partnership was broken by Ashwin trapping Flynn for his individual score of 33 runs which was studded with six boundaries. After the departure of Flynn, pacer Umesh Yadav and Ashwin tightened the screws and dried the run flow of the Kiwis, which resulted in losing James Franklin cheaply for eight runs.
Ojha picked his third wicket when Suresh Raina manning the midwicket area took a splendid diving catch. Earlier electing to bat, New Zealand got off to a poor start, losing Brendon McCullum in the second over with the visitors yet to open their account.
After McCullum's exit, Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson played watchfully and managed to accumulate runs against pacers Zaheer and Umesh Yadav. While Guptill seemed to be in all sorts of trouble negotiating the Indian attack, which extracted some bounce in the first hour.
Guptill got a reprieve on 17 when Virat Kohli in the third slip failed to latch on to an outer edge off Zaheer's bowling. He got lucky once again when he edged the ball that flew right of the diving Virender Sehwag in slips. After New Zealand crossed 50, Guptill scored three boundaries in an over of Yadav and soon reached his half-century, carving one to third man fence. He faced 62 balls to get to fifty with eight hits to the fence.
Williamson, meanwhile, failed to sustain and got trapped LBW by Ojha, who had him for the third time in three innings on this tour. Williamson scored 17 runs off 44 balls with the help of two boundaries. Guptill tried to attack the spinners but ended up giving a simple catch to Gautam Gambhir at midwicket off Ojha. He departed for a brisk 79-ball 53.