New Zealand strike back through Taylor, Ryder (Lead)

March 26th, 2009 - 3:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Ross Taylor Napier, March 26 (IANS) Attacking centuries from Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder arrested New Zealand’s downslide against India as the hosts finished the first day at 351 for four in the second cricket Test at McLean Park here Thursday.
India, playing without skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni who pulled out with a strained back, had New Zealand in trouble at 23 for three before Taylor (151) and Ryder (137 not out) added 271 runs for the fourth wicket to consolidate New Zealand’s position on the opening day.

Virender Sehwag donned the captain’s hat and Dinesh Karthik kept the wickets.

Taylor rode on his luck, his innings sprinkled with dropped chances and flying slices through the slip cordon, before raising his maiden century against India. In contrast, Ryder scored with flair to script his second successive century.

At the end of day’s play, left-handed Ryder had James Franklin (26) for company.

New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori’s decision to bat first on a flat pitch appeared to backfire. In the eighth over, Tim McIntosh was adjudged caught behind off Ishant Sharma.

Ishant troubled McIntosh repeatedly with late swing but was unlucky to find the edge. The opening batsman was caught pushing tentatively. But replays showed the bat brushed McIntosh’s pad after the ball passed.

Zaheer Khan (2-94) then 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 the 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.

Ryder safely avoided the hat-trick and gained in confidence to steady the innings along with Taylor, who seemed to be finding form after struggling in the Twenty20 and One-Day Internationals.

New Zealand were staring at another batting collapse, like in the first Test when they were six wickets down for 61 on the opening day, but Taylor and Ryder averted a crisis.

Luck, though, was clearly favouring New Zealand as Taylor was twice dropped and Ryder escaped a run out chance.

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.

Taylor continued to live dangerously to frustrate the Indians, even as he kept the scoreboard ticking at a fast pace.

His second life came on 92 when Dravid dropped a tough chance at first slip. At a nervous 99, Taylor had almost stranded his partner Ryder trying to steal a single but the throw did not hit the non-striker’s end.

Taylor finally romped onto his third century in 151 balls with 18 fours.

Ryder, on the other hand, played the second fiddle as he rotated the strike and waited for a bad delivery to throw his weight on. His century came in 147 balls, studded with 14 fours and one six.

Taylor accelerated the run flow after tea and belted the Indians for eight fours before he was caught in the deep boundary by Yuvraj Singh off Harbhajan Singh.

Ryder carried on in the same vein, stroking some classy shots.

India’s miserable fielding continued through the day. Yuvraj slipped a regulation catch at third slip to let go Franklin off Zaheer.

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