Openers take New Zealand to 125 for 1 at lunch on Day 3

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New Zealand replied on a strong note to India’s massive first innings total to reach 125 for one at lunch on the third day of the third cricket Test.

The visitors are still 432 runs behind India’s mammoth first innings total of 557 for five.

Openers Martin Guptill (59 batting) and Tom Latham (53) completed half centuries and also figured in a 118-run opening stand before Ashwin removed left-handed Latham, 15 minutes before lunch break.

Giving Guptill company was captain Kane Williamson (3 batting) after New Zealand negotiated the 30 overs during the first session with relative ease.

Guptill had faced 120 balls while striking two huge sixes and 8 boundaries. New Zealand batted sedately after resuming at the overnight 28 without loss, but were also fortunate not to lose Guptill in the first half hour’s play and then Latham

The right-handed opener was on 21 in a team score of 35 when Mohammed Shami, who worked up good pace along with Umesh Yadav at the other end, got him to edge to Ajinkya Rahane stationed at second slip but the Mumbaikar put down the sharp chance.

That escape came early on in the fourth over of the day.

Shami could have dismissed the other opener Tom Latham too, just before the end of the opening hour when the left-hander tried to turn the ball to short mid-wicket.

But Jadeja just could not complete the catch after a dive to his left, the ball dying on him. The batsman was on 13 after having raised the second successive half century stand for the first wicket in the series with Guptill.

The duo was then confronted by the double spin attack from Jadeja and Ashwin after 10 overs of bowling from Shami and Yadav.

Guptill had also played two streaky shots to the fence in the first hour and then an authentic back-foot punch to the covers off Yadav, easily the best shot of the first hour s play.

Past the hour the right-hander, having grown in confidence, lofted Jadeja over the long off region for a six, his second of the knock after his lofted effort off Ashwin last evening. He also got past his previous highest knock of 24 in this series.

Latham, at the other end, took recourse to the sweep shot to try and counter the threat from Jadeja. Both batsmen had plenty of time to play the spinners on the slow-spinning track.

Jadeja rapped Guptill on his pads but could not win a leg before shout in his favour from the umpire just before the right hander cut a short ball from the left arm spinner to the fence to complete his first half century of the series in 86 balls, that contained seven fours and two sixes.

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