New Zealand v India, 1st Test, Hamilton, 1st day March 18, 2009

The drama around Ryder's maiden century

The hapless Chris Martin came in to bat with five balls to go in the Harbhajan over, with Ryder looking on from the non-striker's end, two short of a maiden Test century.

What was Iain O'Brien thinking? He had batted so well with Jesse Ryder before madness struck. O'Brien survived a hat-trick first up and then played a supporting role while Ryder moved from 77 to 98 during the ninth-wicket partnership. And then O'Brien stepped out to Harbhajan to defend one and got stumped.

The hapless Chris Martin came in to bat with five balls to go in the Harbhajan over, with Ryder looking on from the non-striker's end, two short of a maiden Test century. Gripping drama ensued. With every ball that Martin kept out, the cheers in the ground kept getting louder. The first one was a yorker and was played easily. Ryder was somewhere between a smile and a laugh. The second one was a doosra that went far away from Martin's bat. And the smile got wider. The next was closer to stumps, and defended with bat and pad close together. Ryder couldn't believe his luck, and the small crowd thundered its approval. The fourth was another doosra that missed the bat easily.

One ball to go, and umpire Ian Gould joined in the fun. The final ball went off Martin's pad, straight to forward short leg. The Indians appealed and after some deliberation Gould started nodding his head. Brave man Ryder kept laughing. Then he went to Martin and said, "Well done mate."

Ishant started the next over with a spread-out field and tried a bouncer. Ryder saw it early and played his trademark short-arm pull to get to his first hundred. It was received by loud cheers from the dressing room, and acknowledgements from every Indian fielder. It added to an already dramatic day.

Ryder pulled the next ball again but holed out. Six balls ago, he was close to being denied a century and now he had denied Martin another duck. He has 25 already.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo