New Zealand fight back

Hamilton, March 18:

Centuries from Daniel Vettori and Jesse Ryder guided New Zealand to a modest first innings total of 279 after Indian pacemen ran through the top-order on the first day of the first Test here today.

At the close of play, India were 29-0 with Virender Sehwag on 22 and Gautam Gambhir on six. Indian pacemen backed their captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s decision to field by reducing New Zealand to 60-6. But the 186-run stand between Vettori (118) and Ryder (102) helped the Black Caps restore some respectability.

Ishant Sharma was the top performer with 4-73 while Munaf Patel claimed 3-60 and Zaheer Khan got two wickets. Martin Guptill edged Zaheer to Rahul Dravid and his next victim was Daniel Flynn whose flick ended in a leg-side caught-behind for Dhoni.

Ishant returned to bowl and McIntosh’s attempt to steer went straight to Sehwag at gully. With Munaf pegging away to mount the pressure, Ishant struck again as Taylor could not negotiate a terrific delivery which took his off stump nicking the pad on the way.

Ishant was lucky to get his third wicket as James Franklin was ruled caught behind, though replays clearly showed that the ball had kissed the back pad with the bat nowhere near it. Half the New Zealand batting was back for 51 runs and when Brendon McCullum followed them and Vettori walked in to join Ryder, the situation was grim.