Taylor, Ryder pile on the runs against sloppy India
At 351 for 4 with Ryder (137) still at the crease, New Zealand can turn up on the second day with the knowledge that they are in firm control of their destiny in this match.cricket Updated: Mar 26, 2009 23:54 IST
It might be coincidence, but India looked least inspired on a day when Mahendra Singh Dhoni was missing from action and New Zealand found a pair capable of domination. As Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder rescued their team from a calamitous 23 for 3, pounding boundary after boundary, the fielding got ragged, the catching sloppy and expectedly the initiative was ceded to the home side. At 351 for 4 with Ryder (137) still at the crease, New Zealand can turn up on the second day with the knowledge that they are in firm control of their destiny in this match.
The true test of a team's quality, unity of spirit and purpose, comes when the chips are down. So it was no surprise
that even Dhoni's last-minute absence through back spasms were papered over as Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan got going after being asked to bowl first.
Ishant had the unlucky Tim McIntosh given out caught behind when the ball appeared to evade the bat, Jamie How dragged Zaheer back onto his stumps and Martin Guptill was unseated by a snorter he could only fend to gully.
A wobbly 23 for 3 on a belter should have been 27 for 4 but Yuvraj Singh at third slip was slow to react to a thick edge from Taylor. The significance of that miss would only be clear by the end of the day, but even as the shine wore off the new ball it became apparent that wicket-taking would not be easy. Ryder has the remarkable ability to play the ball purely on merit, never predetermining his shots and always respecting the good balls. He places a premium so dear on his wicket that you wonder just where the dasher of the limited-overs games has gone.
The other remarkable aspect of Ryder's batting is the manner in which he transfers his not so inconsiderable weight from back to front foot, and vice versa, thereby enabling him to keep the ball along the ground even when not fully to the pitch of the ball. Some of the shots he played square of the wicket on the off side, hitting in front of or behind point depending on where the field was, were a treat to watch.
The other half of the partnership, Taylor, was far from his best, often surviving nervous patches and occasionally losing concentration to play outrageous shots, but his positive intent kept the Indians from attacking too much. Taylor sliced the ball through the slips cordon far more than he would have liked, but when he played straight, or cover-drove, his class was apparent.
Taylor (151) and Ryder (137 not out) had added 271 for the fourth wicket, a record for New Zealand, before India separated them, with Taylor top-edging a heave off Harbhajan Singh to be caught at square leg. James Franklin, lucky to still be at the crease after a thin edge was not detected by the umpire and a thick one was grassed by Yuvraj, saw New Zealand through to close.