The normally free-scoring Virat Kohli showed the other side of his batsmanship to score the first century of the series against New Zealand and steer India to 267 for three on the opening day of the third and final test on Saturday.
Kohli’s 103 not out was not the most flamboyant of his 13 test centuries but the 167 runs he added with Ajinkya Rahane for the fourth wicket laid the foundation for a big first-innings total for the hosts who hold an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
Kohli hit 10 fours in his 191-ball knock while Rahane’s patient 79 not out contained nine fours and the six he hit off Jeetan Patel to bring up his 10th test fifty.
Earlier, Kohli maintained his perfect toss record in the series and had little hesitation in batting first at Indore’s Holkar Stadium which is hosting its first test.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, back in the side after missing the second test through illness, introduced spin as early as the fifth over and the decision paid off immediately.
Patel struck with his fifth delivery when Murali Vijay (10) stepped out to flick the off-spinner and Tom Latham took a sharp catch at short leg.
It took injuries to openers Lokesh Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan to facilitate Gautam Gambhir’s (29) return to test cricket after a two-year gap and the left-hander nonchalantly pulled Matt Henry for back-to-back sixes before Trent Boult trapped him lbw.
Cheteshwar Pujara (41) played with characteristic composure but Mitchell Santner denied him his fourth fifty of the series with a superb delivery which angled in and turned sharply to uproot the off stump.
Kohli survived a leg-before appeal from Patel, who also induced an edge from the India captain which fell harmlessly between the wicketkeeper and the slip fielder.
He and Rahane rebuilt the Indian innings on a two-paced pitch where the odd ball kept low and were lucky as a couple of edged fell short of the New Zealand fielders.
Kohli sprinted for a quick single off Matt Henry and dived headlong to complete the run that brought up his century and his muted celebration had to wait as the TV umpire ensured he had not been run out.