Ton-up Kohli steers In­dia to 267/3 against N Zealand

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

IN­DORE:

Skip­per Vi­rat Kohli struck form with a gritty cen­tury as In­dia ended the open­ing day’s play on a com­mand­ing 267 for three against New Zealand in the third and fi­nal Test in In­dore yes­ter­day.

The hosts, who elected to bat first, rode on an un­beaten 167-run part­ner­ship be­tween Kohli (103) and Ajinkya Ra­hane(79) to gain con­trol of the in­nings after early losses. Kohli recorded his 13th Test ton in 48 matches after a string of low scores in his last seven in­nings since his first Test dou­ble hun­dred against West Indies in July.

The top-or­der bats­man, who tack­led the New Zealand bowlers with ex­cel­lent foot­work, hit the ball to all parts of the Holkar Sta­dium. Ra­hane, who seemed to gain con­fi­dence from the free-flow­ing Kohli at the other end, brought up his fifty-the tenth of his Test ca­reer-with a six off Jee­tan Pa­tel.

“Vi­rat played a very good in­nings and got the first cen­tury (from ei­ther side) in the se­ries and Ajinkya too bat­ted well,” num­ber three bats­man Chetesh­war Pu­jara, who scored 41, told re­porters.

“Their part­ner­ship was cru­cial and if it car­ries on to­mor­row it will be good for us,” Pu­jara said. The 27-year-old Kohli worked hard in the ini­tial part of his in­nings but grew in stature after get­ting past fifty and his as­sured stroke­mak­ing soon dom­i­nated the New Zealand bowl­ing. Kohli tapped a ris­ing de­liv­ery from Matt Henry to run a quick sin­gle that saw a di­rect hit at the non-strik­ers end but the star bats­man scam­pered home and cel­e­brated his hun­dred. New Zealand skip­per Kane Wil­liamson, who re­turned to lead the side after miss­ing the sec­ond Test with a vi­ral in­fec­tion, jug­gled his bowl­ing op­tions but Kohli and Ra­hane held fort.

The hosts did not lose a sin­gle wicket in the space of 34 overs in the fi­nal ses­sion as the bat­ting duo en­ter­tained the rau­cous home crowd.

“We will try to bat as long as pos­si­ble. The kind of po­si­tion we are in, we will look to get 400 and if we don’t lose quick wick­ets to­mor­row and con­tinue like we are do­ing, we will keep bat­ting. “We hope for a big to­tal and when our spin­ners bowl we ex­pect some more help from the wicket on day two and three,” said Pu­jara.

GAMB­HIR’S BREEZY KNOCK

Ear­lier in post-lunch play num­ber-three Pu­jara was bowled off a beauty by left-arm spinner Mitchell Sant­ner for 41. He had put on 40 runs with Kohli.

In­dia lost both its open­ers in the morn­ing ses­sion with re­turn­ing Gau­tam Gamb­hir (29), who was play­ing Test cricket after a two-year gap, let­ting go of a good start.

Pace spear­head Trent Boult cut short Gamb­hir’s breezy knock, which was stud­ded with three fours and two sixes, after trap­ping the left-handed bats­man lbw on an in­com­ing de­liv­ery. Boult, Sant­ner and Pa­tel, who struck first after send­ing back Mu­rali Vi­jay for 10, shared a wicket apiece in the 90 overs of play.

New Zealand all­rounder James Nee­sham, who was added to the start­ing lineup in place of Neil Wag­ner, said the vis­i­tors were in with a chance pro­vided they strike early on day two.

“I don’t know if we could have done it a whole lot dif­fer­ent with the ball, stuck at it well...Keep­ing the run rate be­low three was a good achieve­ment. Cou­ple of quick wick­ets to­mor­row we’re still in game,” said Nee­sham on Satur­day. The hosts, who took a 2-0 lead after win­ning the sec­ond Test in Kolkata on Monday, have set their sights on a white­wash against the tourists. — AFP

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