Comeback man Gautam Gambhir’s short little innings promised a lot before he fizzled out as India reached 75 for two against New Zealand at lunch on the opening day of the third cricket Test, here today.
While Gambhir looked good during his innings of 29, other opener Murali Vijay was out for 10 in the first session.
Vijay fell to off-spinner Jeetan Patel in the fifth over as his flick was taken by Jeetan Patel at forward short-leg.
Gambhir started off well and played some audacious pull-shots before going into a defensive shell as Trent Boult trapped him leg-before in the 20th over.
At lunch, Cheteshwar Pujara (29) and captain Virat Kohli (7) were holding the fort.
Choosing to bat first, India began confidently with the new opening combination of Vijay and Gambhir. The Delhi left-hander, playing his first game since losing his spot after the away defeat to England in 2014, did not appear to be in any sort of trouble on a placid track.
Gambhir, playing with a changed and more open stance, began with a rasping square cut four off Matt Henry in the second over while Vijay played a couple of pleasing drives on the off-side against left-arm Trent Boult for fours in the next over.
Gambhir was tested with the short ball by the pacy Henry, and answered it with emphatic style by pulling and hooking the right arm bowler over square leg and long leg for successive sixes.
With the pacers not making any impression on the two Indian openers, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, who is back in the side having recovered from the viral infection, introduced spin by bringing into the attack Jeetan Patel.
The move paid immediate dividends albeit through a fine, juggling catch by Latham at forward short leg when Vijay played his pet flick off the front foot. It was Vijay’s third failure in the series.
Gambhir, who is soon to be 35, was joined by man in-form Pujara who looked in good touch from the first ball.
The second wicket duo played spin with calm assurance, and Williamson brought back his pace duo to try and get another wicket.
Pujara struck Henry for two fours in successive balls, the second one off an edge, to raise the 50 of the innings in the 13th over. He survived a close leg before the wicket appeal soon afterwards off Boult, the ball striking him on pads just outside the line of off stump.