India bowlers strike, New Zealand 98 for 3 (Lunch report)

March 26th, 2009 - 8:51 am ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan Singh Napier, March 26 (IANS) India, playing without their injured captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, continued their stranglehold over New Zealand, sending them to lunch at 98 for three on the first day of the second cricket Test here at McLean Park Thursday.
At lunch, New Zealand were 98 for three with Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor trying to rebuild an innings after the first three batsmen went for 23 runs and looked in danger of repeating their first-session slump in the first Test at Hamilton when they lost six wickets for 61 runs.

Taylor (32) and Ryder (39) averted the disaster, adding 75 runs for the unfinished fourth wicket stand.

Dhoni pulled out just before the start of the match with a strained back, handing the captaincy to his deputy Virender Sehwag and the wicket-keeping gloves to Dinesh Karthik for his 22nd Test.

Sehwag, who is captaining the side in Test for the second time, having led against Sri Lanka in Ahmedabad in 2005 in the absence of Rahul Dravid, lost the toss and his counterpart Daniel Vettori decided to bat.

Vettori’s decision to bat first on a typically flat pitch appeared to backfire as early as the eighth over when Tim McIntosh was adjudged caught behind by West Indian umpire Billy Doctrove.

Sharma beat McIntosh repeatedly with late swing angling the ball across the left-hander but was not lucky to find the edge. The opening batsman was caught pushing tentatively. But, replays showed that the bat brushed McIntosh’s pad after the ball passed.

Then Zaheer Khan struck with successive balls to dismiss Jamie How and Martin Guptill to be on hat-trick.

How, who came into the side after Daniel Flynn’s bruised hand failed to pass fitness test, chopped the last ball of Zaheer’s fifth over onto his middle and leg stumps.

With the first ball of his next over, Zaheer got Guptill fending awkwardly at a well-directed short-pitched delivery to be caught by Sehwag at gully and New Zealand were reduced to 23 for three.

Jesse Ryder safely avoided the hat trick and gained in confidence to steady the innings along with Ross Taylor who at last seemed to be getting into some sort of form after struggling in the Twenty20 and One-Day Internationals.

Taylor, who hit four fours off Munaf Patel’s second over, should have been dismissed off the first ball of the over, had Yuvraj Singh at gully not failed to latch on to a sharp catch.

Ratlor was then fortunate not to get run out on 16 when he backed up at the non-striker’s end and was out of his ground when Harbhajan Singh’s throw from point narrowly missed the stumps.

Taylor continued to flirt with danger, scoring the bulk of his runs through or over the slips cordon but crucially he survived.

Ryder looked more assured when also recording seven boundaries though his last flashed between Karthik and Rahul Dravid at slip off Harbhajan’s bowling.

Zaheer had the best figures with two for 26 from eight overs.

New Zealand omitted Kyle Mills for spinner Jeetan Patel in the other change to the home side’s line-up.

–Indo-Asian news Service

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