x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Kiwis fail to build on Taylor's century

Ross Taylor hits the fastest Test century by a New Zealander, but the hosts cannot build a big lead against Australia in Hamilton.

Ross Taylor hit the fastest ever Test century by a New Zealander but the hosts were left ruing a missed opportunity as Australia inched back into the lead on the second day of the second Test in Hamilton. New Zealand began the day in a position of some dominance having bowled the tourists out for just 231 and Taylor did his best to ram home the advantage by reaching three figures off 81 balls, eventually falling for 138. Only the opener BJ Watling (46) could provide any real support as Mitchell Johnson claimed four wickets to help dismiss the Black Caps for 264. By the close, which came early because of bad light, Australia were 35 without loss - a lead of two runs. New Zealand, looking to square the two-match series, started the day on 19 for one after a magnificent opening day with the ball when skipper Daniel Vettori and Tim Southee each picked up four wickets. With all the pressure on New Zealand to capitalise on a near-perfect opening day, Matthew Sinclair and Watling looked solid until Johnson made the breakthrough. Sinclair (11) was looking comfortable until a superb inswinging delivery from Johnson found an inside edge and smashed into his off stump. Taylor then entered the game and had an immediate impact, taking the striking responsibilities from Watling and quickly notching a half-century before Australia claimed their second scalp of the day. Doug Bollinger ended what was shaping to be a big partnership when he bowled Watling for 46, leaving New Zealand looking a little more vulnerable on 114 for three. After Martin Guptill (four) and Vettori (15) both lost soft wickets around lunch, the pressure was all on Taylor and Brendon McCullum to at least reach the Australian total. Shane Watson dropped Taylor on 90 in the slips, the third time he had been dropped in his innings. The luck was just what Taylor needed as he soon claimed his fifth, and New Zealand's fastest ever, Test match century off 81 balls with 17 fours and one six. Johnson made another huge breakthrough for Australia when he claimed McCullum's wicket for five, leaving New Zealand still 38 runs behind with only the tail to come. Taylor's onslaught continued, however, and he took a particular liking to Nathan Hauritz, belting the spinner for 25 runs from one over. After Jeetan Patel was caught by Ricky Ponting for seven, Taylor's luck finally ran out when he was given out after a referral on 138, his highest score against Australia. Southee hit an unbeaten 22 to pad New Zealand's lead a little with Chris Martin, the last man to fall, bowled by Ryan Harris for a duck. Johnson claimed four for 59, while Bollinger and Harris took three wickets apiece. Australia progressed steadily after tea and Watson had reached 28 by the time bad light forced the players off the field. His only real moment of discomfort was a referral for lbw off Brent Arnel, but the original, marginal not-out decision was upheld.

* PA Sport