Ahmedabad: After being defied by young New Zealand batsmen Jesse Ryder and debutant Kane Williamson for almost two full sessions on Day III of the first Test here, India’s new ball bowler Shantakumaran Sreesanth maintained that the home team bowlers had performed well on the flat track at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, on Saturday.
“It was a flat track. We bowled very well but there was nothing for the bowlers. There was no reverse swing too,” said the temperamental Kerala bowler who finally broke the defiant fifth wicket stand by sending back 26-year-old left-hander Ryder, with the third ball of the 118th over.
New Zealand, riding on half centuries from more experienced batsmen Brendon McCullum (65) and Ross Taylor (56) initially and then boosted by the superbly conceived 194-run partnership between Ryder (103) and 20-year-old Williamson (87 not out) ended the third day at 331 for 5 in reply to the home team’s first innings score of 487.
Sreesanth also pointed out the reprieve Ryder got early on in his knock off his bowling when Rahul Dravid not only could not latch on to a thick edge from the batsman at first slip also helped Ryder cash in on the opportunity.
“We should have had Ryder but for the dropped catch,” he said about the chance floored when the Wellington-born Ryder was on 11 with team total on 166 for four in the seventh over of the second session.
Ryder went on to slam ten boundaries and also stepped out to hit Harbhajan Singh over long on to cap his splendid 205-ball effort that took him a shade over five hours.
Sreesanth maintained that although New Zealand trail by 156 runs at stumps, the hosts can still win the match as it will be difficult for New Zealand batsmen to negotiate spin twins Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan in the fourth innings.
“We will keep trying and give it our best shot. We can still force a win as it won’t be easy to face Harbhajan and Ojha on a fifth day wicket. Not to forget Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth,” he said with a smile.
He also complimented the New Zealand fifth wicket pair and said Ryder and debutant Williamson, who has faced 226 balls during his 281-minute stay.
“Credit goes to them. They really played well,” he said.
Sreesanth also said there was nothing to worry about Dravid’s injury as the one-down stalwart had come back to field after having gone off it for a while to attend to his finger.
“He’s absolutely fine. There should not be any problem,” he explained.