Taylor gears up for Indian spin challenge ahead of first Test
Ross Taylor’s adaptability to different situations has stood him in good stead during his distinguished international career with New Zealand. Five months ago, Taylor played an integral role in helping New Zealand win the inaugural ICC Test Championship final against India.
In the first innings of that Test in Southampton, Taylor took 37 balls to score just 11 but found a way around the conditions in the second innings and hit the winning runs to celebrate their unprecedented success along with skipper Kane Williamson.
In his 100-ball 47, which contained six hits to the fence, Taylor kept the Indian bowlers on their toes and stitched together an unbeaten stand of 96 for the third wicket with Williamson.
In Kanpur, Taylor will face an even sterner test against the Indian spinners. In Indian conditions, the spin trio of R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel is a handful, with a combined tally of 470 wickets at an average of 20.97. It is going to be a daunting challenge for a Kiwi batting line-up that only has three players with experience of playing on Indian soil.
On Tuesday, Taylor spent a good one hour at the nets, playing against left-arm spinners Ajaz Patel, Mitchell Santner and off-spinner Will Somerville. Taylor predominantly played Santner on the back foot as the left-arm spinner bowls a flatter trajectory. He didn’t shy away from sweeping Patel and reverse-sweeping Somerville on many occasions. Taylor’s method has its risks when he faces Ashwin, who had a 10-wicket match haul against New Zealand in his only Test at this venue in 2016.
“Spin plays a major part. The new ball can do a bit but can also be the easiest time to score sometimes,” Taylor told the New Zealand Cricket (NZC) website.
“India have world-class spinners who know how to set batters up in these conditions. We need to pick the length as quick as possible and trust our defence,” he said. “When there are a lot of men around the bat, it can be an intimidating place to start your innings. Getting through those first 10-20 balls is going to be crucial. How we play them is going to dictate how the series is going to go.”
A long stint at the nets on Tuesday was aimed to bring Taylor back into rhythm given that he hasn’t played a game since June. The 37-year-old’s vast experience makes him the key man in this batting-up apart from Williamson.
“It’s been a bit strange not playing cricket for as long as I have. I can’t remember the last time I’ve gone five months without playing cricket of any capacity,” Taylor said.
Taylor also feels that Black Caps have to start on a fresh note even though they had the better of India at the World Test Championship final.
“Any time you play India at home, you’re always going to be the underdog regardless of your ranking. They’re resting a couple of players but they’re still a formidable side. They know these conditions really well and the way we adapt is going to be the key,” he said.