India had New Zealand on the ropes at a jittery 23 for three before the Kiwis staged a brilliant recovery through centuries by Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder to lay the foundation for a huge first innings total in the second cricket Test in Napier on Thursday.
Playing sans regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni,who sat out with a back injury,India removed three top order Kiwi batsmen inside 11 overs before a 271-run stand between Taylor (151) and Ryder (137 not out) guided the hosts to a healthy 351 for four at the close of first day’s play.
Ryder and James Franklin (26) will return tomorrow to push further New Zealand’s tally and justify Daniel Vettori’s decision to bat first.
Taylor and Ryder,who enjoyed their share of luck,batted with gusto and scored at a brisk rate to frustrate India’s stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag,who had no clue how to stop the blooming partnership.
While the Kiwi pair batted with aplomb,poor fielding including three dropped catches and a missed run out chance compounded India’s misery and they struggled to stem the flow of boundary.
Taylor,dropped by Yuvraj Singh when at four,was lucky to be reprieved in his nervous nineties when Rahul Dravid grassed one in the lone slip. Yuvraj also dropped Franklin off Zaheer Khan in the slips after the new ball was taken.
Taylor and Ryder’s 271-run stand was New Zealand’s best for all wickets against India and for the fourth wicket against all teams.
If Vettori had wanted his batsmen to spend long hours at the crease and play out 100 overs in an innings,Taylor and Ryder did just that. They consumed 255 minutes and 361 balls while running the Indians’ patience thin.
There were moments when the Indian bowling seemed listless,and ached for another specialist bowler while their fielding was shoddy.
Sehwag turned his arm over in desperation for a breakthrough but made no impression on the batsmen and Yuvraj,given an over,was mercilessly hit out of the attack.
Taylor,woefully short of runs right through the series,was the more dominant partner,throwing his willow at everything that was flung at him. He did have his share of chances which eluded the slip cordon,but hung on grimly to produce his third Test hundred in his 27th innings. His 151 was studded with 26 fours and a six off Harbhajan Singh.
On the other hand,Ryder,who had scored a resilient but classy 102 in the first Test at Seddon Park,batted with the authority and finesse of a seasoned professional. Except for a nick off Harbhajan which gushed past wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik,the 24-year-old’s innings was flawless.