Wednesday, March 18, 2009

INDIA VS NEWZELAND 1st TEST:Vettori, Ryder save New Zealand blushes/Ishant rues letting New Zealand off the hook

Daniel Vettori and Jesse Ryder made centuries and combined in a record seventh-wicket partnership as New Zealand mounted a spirited comeback to reach 279 after being sent in to bat on Wednesday on the first day of the first cricket Test against India.India was 29 without loss after seven overs in reply at stumps with Virender Sehwag on 22 and Gautam Gambhir unbeaten on 6.Vettori and Ryder's partnership of 186 was a record for the seventh wicket for New Zealand against India, and lifted the hosts from a perilous 60 for six prior to lunch to a position close to parity by the end of the opening day.The 118 was Vettori's third and best century in Tests matches, his second on his home ground of Seddon Park where he made a maiden hundred against Pakistan six years ago. He reached it in 179 minutes, from 139 balls, with 13 fours and a six, providing a new archetype of cricket's classic captain's knock."Obviously when I came out I was mindful of how difficult it was," he said. "I guess there had been a bit of misreading of the wicket. I thought we might be able to scrap through to 150 but fortunately Jesse and I batted well and we were able to get a competitive score."The New Zealand captain batted in total for 197 minutes, hitting another four and a six before he was out, caught down legside by rival captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni off Munaf Patel in the 71st over.Ryder was 13 when Vettori came to the wicket but quickly settled into a supporting role with his captain, who scored more freely and gave the innings a rising sense of authority. He was 70, having posted his fourth consecutive half century in Tests innings, when Vettori reached his hundred.On Vettori's dismissal, which was followed one ball later by the dismissal of Kyle Mills, Ryder stepped up his scoring and reached his maiden Tests hundred in 270 minutes from 160 balls with 13 fours.Ryder surpassed his previous highest Tests score at 89 and also moved smoothly into the 90s, taking singles and confidently offering the strike to No. 10 batsman Iain O'Brien.However, there was drama when O'Brien was out, stumped by Dhoni off Harbhajan Singh in the 78th over, when Ryder was 98. O'Brien's dismissal brought to the wicket Chris Martin, the gangly New Zealand fast bowler who has more ducks in Tests cricket than any other player.Martin had to play out five balls from Harbhajan to return the strike to Ryder. He did so, as much by luck as design, thrusting a long leg toward the pitch of the ball, and a relieved Ryder smashed the first ball from Ishant Sharma's next over for four to gain three figures. He was out next ball.Zaheer and Sharma had earlier combined to wreck New Zealand's top and middle order before lunch, sharing five of the first six wickets to fall as New Zealand faltered after losing the toss.Zaheer claimed the first two wickets as New Zealand slumped to 17 for two, Sharma took the next three and third-seamer Patel a sixth to leave the home side 60-6 immediately prior to lunch.Martin Guptill (14) and Daniel Flynn (0) fell to Zaheer then Tim McIntosh (12), Ross Taylor (18) and James Franklin (0) to Sharma, though Franklin was unlucky to be judged caught behind.

Rahul Dravid took a slip catch to remove Guptill which was his 181st catch in Tests, equaling the world record held by Australia's Mark Waugh. Dravid reached the mark in 243 innings over 132 Tests while Waugh set in in 245 innings in 128 Tests.India's pace bowler Ishant Sharma lived up to the potential, picking up four New Zealand wickets in the first innings but was disappointed that the hosts were let off the hook after they were struggling at 60-6 at one stage on the opening day of the first Test here on Wednesday.The hosts found it hard to handle the pace of Ishant and fellow speedster Zaheer Khan, who vindicated skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's decision to field after winning the toss at Seddon Park.The pace partners accounted for five of the six wickets to fall in the first session with third seamer Munaf Patel picking up the other one.

However, with the wicket easing up after the lunch break, success was hard to come by and New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori (118) teamed up with Jesse Ryder (102) to forge a record 186-run partnership for the seventh wicket that steered the hosts to a respectable 279 all out in their first innings."We wanted to bowl them out for a score under 200. There was something in the wicket for the fast bowlers in the morning. But it went flat in the second session," said Ishant, who returned with figures of four for 73 in his 19.2 overs.The Delhi pacer said there was some assistance for the bowlers in the morning session with the wind at their back. "It was difficult to bowl against the wind. But I did a lot better when I bowled with the wind behind me," Ishant said at the post-match press conference.Asked if India had lost the intensity in the post-lunch session, the 20-year-old bowler said, "We bowled to our plans. We bowled in the right areas. But when the wicket goes flat and the old ball does very little, the job becomes difficult. But we must admit that Vettori and Ryder batted very well."

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