Napier, March 26 (IANS) Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder rescued New Zealand with a tenacious unfinished 210-run stand after the Indian attack clipped the top-order on the first day of the second cricket Test at McLean Park here Thursday.
Taylor rode on his luck to score a century (113 not out) while Ryder was looking solid on 87 at tea, denying the Indian attack any wicket in the second session of play.
India, led by Virender Sehwag in absence of injured skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, turned the heat on the hosts in the first session, reducing them to 23 for three before Taylor and Ryder joined forces to halt the slide.
Skipper Daniel Vettori's decision to bat first seem to have backfired as opener Tim Mcintosh, Jamie How and Martin Guptill were dismissed within an hour of play.
New Zealand were staring at another batting collapse, like the first Test when they were six wickets down for 61 on the opening day, but Taylor and Ryder averted the crisis with a rearguard effort on a good batting track.
Luck, though, was clearly favouring New Zealand as Taylor was twice dropped and Ryder escaped a run out chance. There were also some nudges going between the slip fielders.
Taylor, who hit four fours off Munaf Patel's second over, should have been dismissed off the first ball of the over, had Yuvraj Singh at gully not failed to latch on to a sharp catch.
His second life came on 92 when Dravid dropped a tough chance at first slip.
Taylor, however, was not afraid to play his shots and nicked and slashed through the third man area.
Ryder, who scored a century in the first Test, played second fiddle and allowed Taylor to score fluently.
Taylor struck his third century, first against India, in the last over before tea. He took 152 balls and struck 18 fours. Ryder's 120-ball knock had 12 fours and one six.
Earlier, India took the field without skipper Dhoni, who pulled out just before the start of the match with a strained back, handing the captaincy to his deputy Sehwag and the wicket-keeping gloves to Dinesh Karthik for his 22nd Test.
India continued their stranglehold over New Zealand, sending New Zealand to lunch at 98 for three.
Tim McIntosh was adjudged caught behind off Ishant Sharma as early as the eighth over.
Then Zaheer Khan struck with successive balls to dismiss Jamie How and Martin Guptill to be on hat-trick.
How, who came into the side after Daniel Flynn's bruised hand failed to pass fitness test, chopped the last ball of Zaheer's fifth over onto his middle and leg stumps.
With the first ball of his next over, Zaheer got Guptill fending awkwardly at a well-directed short-pitched delivery to be caught by Sehwag at gully and New Zealand were reduced to 23 for three.
Ryder safely avoided the hat trick and gained in confidence to steady the innings along with Taylor.