Indian skipper Virat Kohli hammered a listless New Zealand attack with a superlative double hundred as the hosts piled up a mammoth 557 for five on the second day of the third cricket Test here.
Kohli stroked his way to a career-best 211 and was brilliantly supported by Ajinkya Rahane, who also notched up his highest score of 188 as the home team gained a clear upperhand on a pitch that will only get difficult to bat with passage of time.
At stumps, New Zealand were 28 for no loss with Martin Guptill (17 batting) and Tom Latham (6 batting) at the crease.
Kohli struck 20 hits to the fence while Rahane was equally dominant in his innings that was laced with 4 sixes and 18 boundaries.
The duo decimated the New Zealand attack to pile on a huge fourth wicket partnership of 365 – the highest-ever for India for the fourth wicket against all teams.
When Virat Kohli declared half-an-hour before close, Rohit Sharma (51 not out in 63 balls) and Ravindra Jadeja (17 not out) were at the crease after adding a quick-fire 53 runs in 59 balls for the unbroken sixth wicket.
Sharma cracked his third successive half-century of the series and struck 2 sixes and three fours.
The day’s proceedings belonged almost entirely to Kohli who surpassed his previous best of 200 against West Indies at North Sound while Rahane eclipsed his previous best of 147 against Australia at MCG.
It was the second double century by Kohli in the space of six Tests and three months.
These two batsmen’s complete domination of the clueless New Zealand bowling attack enabled India to add 98 runs in 30 overs in the second session after they had added 91 runs in the pre-lunch session after resuming at the overnight 267 for 3.
Both batsmen exerted complete sway over the visitors’ attack and were hardly beaten before they fell early in the post tea session.
They made the visitors chase leather for more than three sessions after joining forces in the post lunch period of play on day one yesterday with the score on 100 for three.
When the partnership was broken by off-spinner Jeetan Patel, who trapped Kohli leg before the wicket as he tried to flick in the first over after tea, the Indian score had advanced to 465 and the stand had consumed nine minutes under eight hours and lasted 673 balls.
He had stayed at the wicket for a total of 539 minutes and also became the first Indian captain to get to the landmark of a double hundred for the second time in his career.
The duo also eclipsed the previous fourth wicket Indian record of 353 by Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman compiled against Australia at Sydney in January, 2004.
Rahane too got out not long afterwards, chasing a wide ball from left arm pace bowler Trent Boult and edging behind after a stay of 514 minutes to miss a golden chance to join the double century makers’ list by 12 runs.
It was the classy Mumbai batsman’s 8th three-figure knock in his 29th Test. For New Zealand all the bowlers struggled to not only get among the wickets but also stem the flow of runs and in the endeavour Boult (2 for 113) and Patel (2 for 120) emerged as the most successful ones while left arm spinner Santner picked up 1 for 137.
Kohli reached his double century with a single to long leg off Matt Henry who had rapped him on the pads when he was on 194 only for his and teammates’ concerted and loud appeal turned down by the umpire.
This was one of the rare occasions that the ball beat the bat during the course of the day’s play. It took the Indian captain 347 balls and 516 minutes stay to reach the landmark with the help of 18 hits to the fence.
The well-set fourth-wicket pair stepped on the gas and attacked the New Zealand bowling with gusto from the beginning of the post-lunch session.
Both batsmen looked totally at ease when handling pace of spin on a track that continued to play easy and staved off the Kiwis after having come together at the fall of Cheteshwar Pujara yesterday.
Rahane continued to use his feet beautifully against the rival spin bowlers and danced down the track to smack off spinner Patel over the straight field for two of his four sixes.
Before lunch the Mumbai batsman became the second player from either side to notch up a century after Kohli, who achieved the landmark yesterday.
Commencing the day at 267 for 3, Kohli and Rahane were keen to step up the run-rate and succeeded against the visiting team’s attack bowling with the ten-over old second new ball.
Rahane, 21 short of the coveted century landmark, faced a short-ball barrage from Matt Henry before reaching his eighth ton in his 29th Test with a single to long leg off Trent Boult.
He answered back Henry in his own coin, by going on the attack and hooked the fast medium bowler for a four before the next ball, also dug in short, struck him on the side grill of the helmet.
Undaunted, he batted on while Kohli – not out 103 overnight – too took the attack to the opposition by square cutting and straight driving Henry for fours in successive balls.
Rahane proceeded to complete his own century in an unruffled manner as New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson brought on Boult to replace Henry. He reached the landmark in 210 balls and with the help of one six and 11 fours.
He thus joined Kohli in the list of centurions in the series, the Indian captain having done it yesterday.