Taylor leads from the front for New Zealand
Taylor leads from the front for New Zealand
It was Taylor’s eighth Test hundred and his third as captain while Kane Williamson was on 95 not out at the close which came 9.1 overs early due to rain.
The duo’s patient partnership of an unbroken 214 was the highest stand for any wicket by New Zealand in nine matches in 2012.
The stand was the perfect response by New Zealand’s batsmen after the debacle of the first test in Galle, when they crumbled for 118 in the second innings and lost by 10 wickets in less than three days.
“With all the pressure and the things that happened during the week (with the loss in Galle) and with all the distractions it’s up there with the other hundreds I’ve scored,” Taylor said.
“But test match cricket is played over five days and how good today was depends on how we get on in the morning.” Taylor chose to bat first but must have been wondering about the wisdom of that decision as his side slipped to 14 for two.
Martin Guptill opened his account with a straight-driven four off Nuwan Kulasekera’s medium pace, only to edge the final ball of the first over to first slip where Angelo Mathews took a straightforward catch.
Brendon McCullum fell three overs later, adjudged leg-before wicket to Shaminda Eranga by umpire Marais Erasmus.
McCullum was clearly frustrated by the decision and replays showed he got an inside edge on to the ball before it cannoned into his front pad. There was no reprieve, however, as the Decision Review System is not in operation during this series.
Taylor enjoyed some good fortune early on, slashing Eranga over Mathews at third slip and then inside edging the same bowler past leg-stump, but otherwise played a model innings.
He has faced 241 balls and hit 10 fours and of the five test hundreds scored by New Zealand batsmen this year, Taylor’s haul is now three.
Right-hander Williamson, who has another one of those five, faced 229 balls and hit eight fours in an exhibition of risk-free batting.
“Kane Williamson has struggled a bit in recent times and for him to come out and play like he did under a lot of pressure is credit to him,” said Taylor.
“He’s worked very hard during the week and it’s nice when you work hard and get some rewards. He’s still got to go on tomorrow but I’m very pleased for him.” The man who tore New Zealand’s batting apart in Galle with 11 wickets, left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, finished the day wicket less after bowling 21 overs for 45 runs.
“He can still get 11 wickets so we don’t want to get too carried away,” said Taylor.
“He’ll still play a big part in this Test match but hopefully the way Kane and I played him, the rest of the team can get confidence from that.” New Zealand are seeking to avoid a sixth successive Test defeat which would equal their worst sequence of results from 1954 and 1955.
What now for Saudi Arabia’s big four teams?
- Al-Hilal won their 15th top-flight title this season.
- Big summer for Saudi Arabia football with the Green Falcons at the World Cup.
Now the Saudi Professional League season is over for another year Arab News can look back at their title tilts and what the big four clubs have to do over the coming months ahead of the next season.
Coaching situation: Ramon Diaz was in charge for much of the season, but was fired in February after setbacks in the Champions League.
Assistant Juan Brown did Okay in the final stretch, but a top-class coach could get more out of this team.
Squad priorities: A reliable goalscorer to support Omar Khribin and with veteran defender Osama Hawsawi leaving for pastures new, a replacement center-back with leadership qualities. Welcoming back the major stars — Carlos Eduardo, Khribin, Nawaf Al-Abed and Salem Al -Dawsari — will be a major boost.
Aim next season: Win the AFC Champions League
Coaching situation: Sergiy Rebrov is out of contract at the end of June. His future is likely to depend on how the team fares against Al-Sadd in the second round of the AFC Champions League in May.
Squad priorities: There is not much wrong. The Jeddah giants were the highest scorers in the league last season and had the second best defense. Keeping star midfielder Leonardo fit will help as will a little cover in the center of defense. Star striker Omar Al-Somah fell out with the coach in a public way in the penultimate game of the season. It may be that one of them has to go. The Syrian has been player of the year for three years and has a longer contract than Rebrov.
Aim next season: Win the league. Maintain good performances in Asia.
Coaching situation: Krunoslav Jurcic arrived in January and the former Croatian national team boss produced an upswing in results. May just be a temporary appointment and it needs to be sorted quickly.
Squad priorities: Looks good with the Saudi Arabia national team keeper, a strong center-back pairing of Omar Hawsawi and Bruno Uvini and the full-back position seemingly sorted with the January signing of Saad Suhail. They probably need a defensive midfielder and have to keep Junior Kabananga. The DR Congo striker has shown enough in his few weeks at the club to suggest that he could be a real star next season, especially with Leonardo pulling the strings behind him.
Aim next season: A genuine title challenge and getting through the play-offs into the 2019 AFC Champions League.
Coaching situation: A bottom half finish is unacceptable for a team with Al-Itithad’s stature and history. Chilean coach Jose Luis Sierra may find that winning domestic cups is no substitute for challenging for the title.
Squad priorities: There is too much reliance on players such as Carlos Villanueva, a creative spark in the team, and Fahad Al-Ansari, the midfield engine, who are the wrong side of 30. The possible return of star winger Fahad Al-Muwallad will help, but an introduction of energy is needed.
Aim next season: Top three and, if the team wins the King’s Cup, a good showing in the 2019 AFC Champions League.