Napier (New Zealand), Mar.26 (ANI): New Zealand's middle order batsmen Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder put India's much vaunted pace and spin attack to the sword here on Thursday, the first day of the second Test between the two sides after initial hiccups.
At the draw of stumps, New Zealand were sitting pretty on 351 for four, with Ryder unbeaten on 137 with 17 boundaries and a six and James Franklin on 26 with five boundaries. Taylor had earlier scored a violent 151 with 26 boundaries and a six.
That score should never have materialised had the Indians avoided their fielding lapses. India had New Zealand on the mat at 23 for 3, but thereafter, it was a Taylor-Ryder mayhem. They put on 261 runs for the fourth wicket, leaving the hosts in a position to dictate terms from here on.
Taylor wasn't at his fluent best at McLean Park but everything went his way on Thursday. He swished, flashed and edged but luck was on his side and he was dropped twice. He eventually battled his way to a third Test century to give New Zealand something to be proud about.
Ryder completed his second century of the series to place New Zealand in a dominant position.
The Test got off to a strange start. Vice-captain Virender Sehwag walked out to toss instead of M S Dhoni, who was ruled out with a sore back. Kiwi skipper Daniel Vettori won the toss and chose to bat.
When three wickets fell for just 23 runs, it appeared as if Vettori's call to his batsmen to play out at least 120 overs had fallen on deaf ears, but a record fourth-wicket partnership for New Zealand that followed vindicated his decision to bat.
All of India's four primary bowlers were unlucky throughout, with many edges falling short of fielders or going over their heads. When Rahul Dravid failed to hold a tough catch at slip, with Taylor on 92, India's hopes of preventing Taylor's innings from swelling to three figures were dashed.
That milestone came on the stroke of tea with another squirt through gully and Taylor soaked up the applause from his home crowd.
Unlike Taylor, Ryder combined a craftsman's patience with an artist's flair.Ryder understood his role and had no qualms about playing second fiddle as long as Taylor was around. He bided his time against the seamers and blossomed against spin after edging one off Harbhajan between slip and the wicketkeeper, Dinesh Karthik.
Once he reached his hundred, and more so after Taylor departed, Ryder opted for caution over charisma. The bat came down straight, the head remained still and the eyes were steely.
For India, Zaheer Khan snared two wickets for 94 of his 23 overs, while Ishant Sharma and Harbhajan Singh snared a wicket each of 17 and 26 overs respectively, Munaf Patel failed to trouble the timberand went for 78 runs. (ANI)