The veteran batsman walked in at 13 for 2 against Pakistan and scored a crucial 70
When he featured in the team sheet for the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan in Mount Maunganui, Ross Taylor became the most-capped New Zealand player, with his 438th international appearance. A standing ovation from his team-mates made it “a special occasion”, and Taylor marked the occasion with a rescue act after his team was stuttering on 13 for 2.
“Every time you represent your country, it’s a special moment,” Taylor said after the game. “To represent them 400-odd times and to get the record, it’s not what I play for, but it’s nice to have got it and a special occasion. Got some nice words from BJ (Watling) and the team this morning and it felt a little bit like my 100th Test [he now has 104], going out to bat today with a standing ovation. I didn’t hear what the ground announcer said, but he must have told the crowd, because I’m sure they wouldn’t have known.”
Pakistan won the toss, chose to field, and Shaheen Afridi sent back Tom Latham and Tom Blundell with just 13 runs on the board. Taylor then shared a 120-run stand with Kane Williamson for the third wicket. He brought up his half-century off 127 balls and added another 20 off 24 before becoming Afridi’s third victim. New Zealand ended the day with 222 for 3 in 87 overs, not quite able to break free but denying the Pakistanis wickets, though dropped catches made it worse for them.
“It was difficult early on and you expect that on the day-one wicket. It definitely flattened out but probably a little bit two paced at times,” Taylor said. “I am sure it going to be bit more uneven in the next couple of days with the wind and whatnot. The way I and Kane got through that it was nice and pleasing. But you’ve got to give it to Shaheen as he bowled outstandingly well and [Mohammad] Abbas really didn’t give us much. So I had to either try and take them on or just try and get through it, and that’s the plan we had.”
Comparing the Pakistan bowlers to the West Indians, who had visited recently, Taylor said, “They [Pakistan] were a lot more disciplined and got the ball in good areas for a lot longer. West Indies, they did bowl well at times but weren’t as consistent as this lot (who are) probably a little bit more experienced.
“When Yasir Shah was bowling, we were on our toes. Quite often the spinners in New Zealand don’t bowl much on day one or at all, so it shows what type of wicket it is. Obviously, we are happy with where we are at 222 for 3 and would have taken that at the start of the day. But it’s how we how we turn up tomorrow and get through that first hour or two that really dictates how good a day this really was.
“Yasir Shah is a world-class bowler and even the way he bowled today, just trying to get through his overs, pick and choose his moments when he tried to attack… We’ve got a bit of luck and we’re fortunate to get through that stage. But he’s definitely going to play a big part tomorrow and whenever we bat again.”
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent