India reached 148/3 at tea on the first day of the third and final Test match against New Zealand at the Holkar cricket stadium here on Saturday. Skipper Virat Kohli (45) and Ajinkya Rahane (19) were at the crease when umpires called for the break. Cheteshwar Pujara was the only wicket to fall in the second session.
Resuming at 75/2 after lunch, Pujara and Kohli continued to maintain their temperament against the Kiwi spinners but after adding 25 runs to the score left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner produced a ripper to dismiss Pujara for 41.
The fall of Pujara brought in Ajinkya Rahane, who along with Kohli forged a 48-run partnership to stabilise the Indian innings.
For New Zealand, Santner was the lone wicket-taker in the second session. Earlier in the day, Kiwi bowlers managed to send back the Indian openers as the hosts reached 75/2 at lunch. All eyes were on veteran opener Gautam Gambhir (29), who made a comeback to the national team after being sidelined for two years.
Coming in as a replacement for the aggressive Shikhar Dhawan, who injured his left thumb during the Kolkata Test, Gambhir started with a four to set the tone for the first ever Test match played at the venue. When Matt Henry tested him with two short deliveries, the Delhi southpaw unleashed two consecutive pull shots that carried the ball safely over the ropes.
Two more fours took his total to 24 off 20 making the 34-year-old’s intent loud and clear.
His opening partner Murali Vijay (10) produced two classy fours off pacer Trent Boult but soon fell prey to off-spinner Jeetan Patel, who induced the right-hander to flick before being caught by Tom Latham at short-leg.
Encouraged by the result, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson immediately introduced spin from both ends employing Santner but one down Pujara and Gambhir did not give the left-armer any chance.