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Ryder, Taylor put NZ on top

ROSS Taylor and Jesse Ryder combined for a record 271-run partnership to help New Zealand recover from a disastrous start and reach 351 for four at the end of the first day of the second test against India in Napier yesterday.

Taylor (151) and Ryder (137 not out) had come together at 23-3 within the first hour when Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma destroyed New Zealand's top order after the hosts had won the toss and opted to bat on a good wicket at McLean Park.

The pair, however, rescued the hosts with their partnership, surpassing the record for any New Zealand wicket against India after tea. Mark Richardson and Lou Vincent scored 231 for the first wicket in Mohali in October 2003.

James Franklin survived a dropped catch by Yuvraj Singh in the slips and three confident lbw shouts in the final few overs of the day to remain with Ryder at stumps on 26 not out.

"We knew it was a pretty good wicket once the new ball lost its shine, we knew if we played straight ... it's a pretty fast scoring ground," Taylor said. "You don't often get 350 on the first day. It's something for the team to be proud of but we know it's only half the job done. We probably need 500-550 to be competitive."

India, which won the first test in Hamilton by 10 wickets, is seeking its first series win in New Zealand since 1968 but was dealt a blow when captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni sustained a back injury during the warm-up and was replaced by Dinesh Karthik.

Virender Sehwag took over as captain and the absence of Dhoni did nothing to prevent opening bowlers Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma from taking three New Zealand wickets in the first hour.

Ishant had Tim McIntosh (12) caught behind by Dinesh Karthik, while Zaheer bowled Jamie How (one) and had Martin Guptill caught by Sehwag in the gully for eight to leave the hosts floundering.

The scenario was reminiscent of the first test in the three-match series at Seddon Park when New Zealand never recovered after slumping to 61-6 in the first session.

The 25-year-old Taylor however, chose not to temper his aggressive strokemaking despite the precarious position before lunch, taking New Zealand to 98-3 by the break.

After lunch he produced several anxious moments while on 99 and almost ran out Ryder while searching for a quick single before he brought up his third test century with an edged drive behind point for his 18th boundary from 151 balls.

"Jeepers. You'd have thought it was my first hundred the way I was jumping around," Taylor said.

They took the hosts to 233-3 at tea and in the final session they set the partnership record before Ryder brought up his second test century.

Taylor finally departed when he top-edged Harbhajan Singh and was well caught by Yuvraj in the shadows of the main stand in the outfield.


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