|India need to ensure an early end to NZ first innings if they want to push for a 1-0 lead in the 3-match series [Reuters]|
Jesse Ryder and debutant Kane Williamson defied India with a fifth-wicket partnership of 194 to take New Zealand past the follow-on mark on the third day of the first Test, in Ahmedabad, on Saturday.
Ryder scored 103 before being dismissed in the last over, while Kane Williamson scored an unbeaten 87 as the Kiwis clawed their way into the game to reach a comfortable 5-331 at close on the third day, still trailing the hosts by 156 runs.
The visitors were struggling at 4-137 following the dismissals of the well-set Brendon McCullum (65) and Ross Taylor (56) in quick succession, but Ryder and Williamson put on a record 194-run fifth-wicket partnership to frustrate the Indians.
The duo eclipsed the previous record of 142 estblished by Ross Taylor and James Franklin in Wellington in 2009.
The 26-year-old Ryder, playing his first Test after a gap of 14 months, completed his third Test ton in the last over of the day with a fluent drive through covers, although he also perished in the same over with Sreesanth trapping him in front.
The New Zealanders not only managed to avoid the follow on but also put themselves on course for matching India’s first innings total on a track which offered little assistance to the bowlers.
Rahul Dravid dropped a simple catch at first slip early when Ryder was on 11 to compound India’s misery.
It was a valiant fightback by Ryder and Williamson who showed great temperament and composure to keep India’s bowlers at bay and steer their team to a relatively safer position.
With two days left in the match, India will now have ensure an early end to New Zealand’s first innings if they want to push for a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Earlier in the morning, both the overnight batsmen McCullum (65) and Taylor (56) started confidently and completed their half-centuries before gifting their wickets to the hosts.
McCullum and Taylor negotiated the Indian pacers and spinners well for about 17 overs in the morning session before Harbhajan Singh broke the 104-run third-wicket stand.