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Vettori, Ryder rally New Zealand after setbacks

DANIEL Vettori and Jesse Ryder both struck centuries to lead a New Zealand fight back in the first test against India in Hamilton yesterday.

Vettori completed his third test hundred with a superb captain's knock of 118 while Ryder registered his maiden test ton with 102 to rescue New Zealand from a disastrous start and post 279 on the opening day at Seddon Park.

India was 29 without loss in its first innings at stumps with Virender Sehwag unbeaten on 22 and Gautam Gambhir not out on six.

India has not won a test series in New Zealand for more than 40 years but thrashed the Kiwis in the one-dayers and could hardly have made a better start to the first of three tests.

The tourists would have been in an even better position had Vettori and Ryder not batted through the entire middle session, adding 186 for the seventh wicket after India's fast bowlers had demolished the New Zealand top order.

"If you erase our partnership and look at the scores then you'd say India's on top," Vettori said.

Ishant Sharma captured three wickets in a devastating spell before lunch then polished off the innings when he dismissed last-man-out Ryder after tea.

Munaf Patel bagged three wickets, including Vettori, then Kyle Mills for a golden duck to be on a hat-trick, while Zaheer Khan triggered the top-order collapse with two early wickets to vindicate M.S. Dhoni's decision to field.

New Zealand could not have made a worse start on a placid pitch, losing six wickets before lunch.

Debutant opener Martin Guptill (14) and No. 3 batsman Daniel Flynn (no score) both fell to Khan then Sharma cleaned up Tim McIntosh (12), Ross Taylor (18) and James Franklin (no score).

Complete disarray

Patel removed Brendon McCullum for three as New Zealand limped to lunch in complete disarray at 61-6 with five wickets falling to catches behind.

"There was just enough in the wicket to suggest it was difficult and they swung the ball as well," Vettori said. "If we look through the dismissals there weren't too many we were disappointed with. A couple of things didn't quite go our way."

Vettori and Ryder held Indian bowlers at bay for three hours.

Vettori, the more aggressive of the two, raced to his hundred off 139 balls and smacked 14 fours and two sixes before he departed after tea, also edging behind.

Ryder, who had been more circumspect, was on 77 when Vettori was dismissed and raised the tempo as he closed in on a first test ton.

He raced to 98 when he lost Iain O'Brien, stumped for eight after dancing down the pitch to Harbhajan Singh, but brought up his hundred with a boundary in the next over after Chris Martin held up his end for five deliveries from Harbhajan.

"I was sweating bullets there for a minute," said Ryder, who scored his maiden one-day international hundred just last week. "I was lucky (Martin) got through those and saw me through to it."

Ryder, who opens in one-dayers but bats at five in tests, reached his century off 161 deliveries.

India faced an anxious half an hour before the close but cut the deficit to 250 heading into the second day with Sehwag signalling his intentions with five boundaries.


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