Mohali: New Zealand kept themselves on track for a mammoth first innings total as they reached 316 for one at lunch on the second day of the series deciding second cricket Test against India in Mohali on Friday. Resuming at their overnight score of 247 for one, the visitors piled on the misery on the hosts as centurion Mark Richardson and Scot Styris consolidated the position for their team with an unfinished 85-run second wicket partnership to completely put the hosts on the backfoot. Richardson made good use of the 'lives' given to him by the buttered-finger Indian fieldsmen to remain undefeated at 129 at the lunch break with an equally determined Styris giving him company with 43.
The two speedsters Lakshmipathy Balaji and Zaheer Khan began the bowling operations in the morning but like in the first day, barring a couple of deliveries which beat the bat, they hardly made much of an impact on a track which gave very little assistance to the bowlers. Richardson, who shared a marathon 231-run opening partnership with Lou Vincent to provide the ideal platform for a mammoth Kiwis total, played the first scoring shot by steering Balaji to the third man fence. Scot Styris, who was promoted to the number three position to shield the top order batsmen after Vincent perished late on the opening day, grew in confidence and executed some delightful strokes much to the frustration of the Indians who were hoping for an early breakthrough.
Richardson, who was dropped by Rahul Dravid early in his innings on Thursday, got another reprieve on Friday with the buttered-fingered Indian captain being the culprit yet again. The left handed opener was on 111 when he edged Anil Kumble to first slip but Dravid failed to latch on to the catch, allowing the batsman to carry on with the job of taking the Kiwis to a position of strength from where they could dictate terms.
The two overnight batsmen played watchfully for most part of the pre-lunch session but were prompt to punish the loose deliveries that came their way. While Richardson was quite content in performing the sheet anchor's role, Styris was the more aggressive of the two batsmen keeping the scoreboard moving with gentle pushes and nudges. Young wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel, who had a miserable day behind the stumps on Thursday, was again found wanting as he failed to collect the ball cleanly on a number of occasions in a session which further compounded the home team's misery.
After the new ball bowlers failed to make any inroad, Dravid introduced his trump card Kumble within 40 minutes through the morning session but it did not bring about much change in India's fortunes. Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was deployed into the attack shortly before the lunch break but the two well-set Kiwis batsmen had no difficulty in negotiating him.