(BBC)-Skipper Daniel Vettori and Jesse Ryder made centuries to save New Zealand from total collapse on day one of the first Test against India in Hamilton.
Vettori (118) and Ryder (102) shared a partnership of 186 after their side had been reduced to 60-6, but the Kiwis were still bowled out for 279 as pacemen Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel took 4-73 and 3-60 respectively.
Openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir then saw India safely to 29-0 as they ended the day on top.
It was the sort of outcome India’s skipper Mahendra Dhoni would have been hoping for when he opted to put New Zealand in on a seamer-friendly pitch after winning the toss.
Vettori was dropped on 77, however, and Dhoni may feel slightly disappointed at the home side’s eventual total.
But Sharma insisted: “In the afternoon it got flat, there was nothing for the fast bowlers and the ball was not new. We just had to bowl in the right areas and stick to our plans.”
Left-armer Zaheer Khan struck first by having debutant Martin Guptill caught in the slips for 14 and Daniel Flynn taken down the leg-side by keeper Dhoni for a third-ball duck.
Ross Taylor was dropped at gully before he had scored, but only managed 18 before he was bowled by Sharma – the second of three quick wickets for the pace bowler which saw New Zealand slide from 40-2 to 51-5.
Patel then got in on the act by removing the dangerous Brendon McCullum for three shortly before lunch with an angled delivery which resulted in a slip catch for VVS Laxman.
After lunch however, conditions were easier for the batsmen and Vettori and Ryder were content to block Harbhajan Singh’s off-spin and collect runs off the seamers rotated at the other end.
Vettori hooked Khan for six to take the total past 100 as he and Ryder gradually raised the tempo and in the first hour after tea, the scoring rate reached more than five an over.
Having been dropped by Rahul Dravid off Harbhajan, Vettori reached his third Test hundred with a single to fine leg and he celebrated by hoisting a ball from Sehwag for the second six of his innings.
But Patel eventually had him caught behind off the inside edge and then yorked Kyle Mills with his next delivery.
Iain O’Brien prevented a hat-trick but was stumped off Harbhajan for eight, leaving last man Chris Martin – who has a Test average of 2.17 – to try and see Ryder to three figures.
He had to survive almost an entire over from Harbhajan before Ryder, on 98, hammered a ball from Sharma for his 14th four to finally reach three figures.
It was his last scoring stroke, however, as he skied the next ball to Laxman and the New Zealand innings came to an end.
“I was sweating bullets but it was lucky that Chris got through those five balls and saw me through to it. It’s a great feeling. I have thrown it away a couple of times before and just to get it is a great feeling” Ryder commented.
India had only seven overs to survive before stumps but it did not affect Sehwag’s approach and he hit five fours in his 22 not out off 18 balls, with partner Gambhir ending the day on six.