Ross Taylor's brilliant hundred gave New Zealand belief after the disastrous first Test match where they could not get past 165 on two innings. Before this Test began, Taylor had emphasized that batsmen must get aggressive against the Indian spinners and not allow them to dictate terms.
This pitch also is different than the one in Hyderabad where the ball turned and bounced too. The Bangalore pitch was hard and the ball came on to the bat nicely enough to start with, but as the ball got older and softer it came sluggishly off the surface which suited the Kiwi batsmen, who could then play comfortably off the back foot too. What was clearly noticeable was the intent and attitude of the batsmen.
They were positive whether on the front foot or back foot and did not look in any trouble till they got themselves out to an injudicious shot. Martin Guptill batted well to get to a half century and then threw it away as did Flynn whose partnership with skipper Taylor, gave the batting just the muscle it needed. Flynn did not seem to have learnt anything from his dismissals from the Hyderabad Test where he was trapped in front trying to sweep Ashwin and the off spinner got him once again attempting the same shot.
Taylor also fell to the sweep, but only after he had got a blistering century. Amazingly this was only the second Test century in India by a Kiwi captain, the first being Glenn Turners ton in 1976. Taylor has played a lot of cricket in Bangalore when he played for the Bangalore franchise in the IPL and he seemed totally at home and at ease as he walked out to bat.
His first few scoring shots showed his determination not to let the ball dominate him and very soon he had scattered the cluster of close in fielders. That is a major battle won in the fight against the turning ball and after that he took advantage of the deep set fielders to pick singles too.
Dhoni set a trap for him and Taylor perhaps just a touch relaxed after his century fell for it. Seeing that his offside was blocked the Kiwi skipper moved across his stumps and missed a sweep off a straight ball. The sweep can be a productive shot and can be very annoying for the spinner, but the selection of the delivery to play it is crucial. It is here that New Zealand have given their wickets away and that too when they had the bowlers under some pressure.
Taylor's hundred would have been in vain if Van Wyk had not played a capital innings. He played the ball late and like Taylor was pretty positive off both front and back foot. His partnership with Doug Bracewell has ensured that India will have to bat well. They are still together and if they bat as sensibly as they have done so far then New Zealand could well go past 400 and which will give them a chance to put real pressure on the Indians.
It is a terrific comeback from a team that looked hopeless in the first Test and it has made the Bangalore Test an interesting one indeed. That is if the weather holds up too.