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“It was a massive effort from New Zealand’s senior-most member after seeing his side at 8 for 2”

Ross Taylor just keeps delivering…

One of the most dedicated members in New Zealand cricket, Taylor, has always been in the shadow of a teammate. Before it was Brendon McCullum and now Kane Williamson. But, the man does not lose his focus and keeps doing his job – he keeps delivering for his country.

On Monday, one of those sights was witnessed against Bangladesh on Day four of their ongoing second Test.

After the rain washed out the first two days, the play finally took place on Day three and New Zealand restricted Bangladesh to 211 in the first innings. In reply to that, the Kiwis did not have the best of the starts. At stumps of Day three, they had lost both their openers but had their most dependable batsmen – Taylor and Williamson – at the crease.

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Taylor, who walked in the middle at 8 for 2, survived early in the innings as Bangladesh dropped his catch twice. Taylor received his first life when Mahmudullah failed to hold on an easy catch at short cover on the very first ball of the 14th over. Two balls later, Taylor survived again. This time, he poked an away seamer and sent a low catch to the left of second slip, where Shadman dropped the catch after having both his hands on the ball.

Also read: Bangladesh middle order fails to pass the test of temperament

The 35-year-old New Zealander made the Bangladesh side pay a heavy price for their sloppy piece of fielding. There were sure similar lose shots because of the bounce in the first hour of the day on Day four but that didn’t last long as the scoring chances soon began once the ball started to get old. Those scary moments where Taylor almost got dismissed did not shake his confidence as the veteran looked to play his natural game from the very beginning. He played run a ball for most of the times and did not let the opposition get the better of him even once after that.

While Williamson beat Taylor to a half-century, the latter switched gears soon after that as he charged up against the Bangladeshi bowlers not sparing any of them. One of the most elegant shots came against Abu Jayed when Taylor flicked a powerful shot into the square leg stands. It was his first of the four sixes he hit in his stunning knock on Monday.
Taylor’s third six was off Taijul Islam’s bowling. The former New Zealand skipper danced down the track and belted the ball clearing his favourite area of long-on.

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The hit took him to his 18th Test century. The milestone was a bit more special for him because that saw him past his mentor and former New Zealand cricketer Martin Crowe for the second most centuries in New Zealand Test history, two behind Williamson. The moment was immensely special for Taylor, who waived off his traditional stuck-out tongue celebration and instead just closed his eyes and soaked in the moment as the Basin Reserve crowd applauded.

Taylor’s 18th Test ton was crucial on a personal perspective as well. He had been stuck on 17 Test tons since 2017. The achievement just got better later in the day as Taylor raised his bat again when he clinched his third Test double. His previous two Test double hundreds came against Australia (2015) and West Indies (2013).

Taylor, after scoring unbeaten 107 against West Indies in Hamilton in 2017, played 14 more innings in the last two years or so and had scored just two half-centuries. While his performances in the ODI cricket was better, he was unable to strike the same balance in the whites.

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“I felt really good when I played against Sri Lanka here and got an absolute screamer at short leg second ball of the day, so I just went back to that and thought ‘My luck’s got to change sooner or later – let’s make them pay’,” Taylor said after his 212-ball 200 on Monday.

It was a massive effort from New Zealand’s senior-most member after seeing his side at 8 for 2. At stumps of Day four, New Zealand found themselves within seven wickets of what could be an excellent victory in a rain-affected Test.

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