Taylor's century puts Kiwis in driving seat

27 January 2012 - 02:30 By Sapa-AFP
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An unbeaten century from skipper Ross Taylor put New Zealand in a commanding position at 331/5 at close of play on the first day of the one-off test against Zimbabwe in Napier yesterday.

Taylor finished the day on 111 not out after his team lost the toss and were sent in to bat on a green-tinged wicket expected to favour the bowlers.

However, fears of demons in the pitch proved unfounded and, while the hard-working tourists worried the Black Caps at times, they failed to maintain consistent pressure against a dogged New Zealand batting line-up.

Openers Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill both scored half-centuries in a 124-run opening stand, while former skipper Daniel Vettori joined in with a rapid-fire 38.

Test debutant Shingi Masakadza finally broke the partnership, when Guptill's attacking instincts got the better of him on 51, and he edged a rising ball to wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu.

Guptill's replacement, Kane Williamson, was sent back to the pavilion three overs later after a mix-up with McCullum saw him run out for four.

Captain Taylor and McCullum put on 64 runs before the opener was trapped lbw after tea.

Hamilton Masakadza - Shingi's older brother - forced an edge from Dean Browlie, which was snaffled up by Taibu to have him walking for a duck.

Vettori, promoted to No6 to add steel to the middle-order, chimed in with a free-scoring 38, before falling to an inspired piece of wicketkeeping from Taibu. He charged down the wicket attempting to meet a Cremer delivery, which skidded past his bat to the waiting Taibu, who whipped off the bails.

Despite the setback, Taylor produced a captain's knock, smashing a boundary off Brian Vitori to bring up a sixth test century that included 12 fours and two sixes.

Along with wicketkeeper BJ Watling, who ended the day on 15, he will be looking to build an imposing total.

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