New Delhi,Oct 7: New Zealand bowlers managed to send back the Indian openers as the hosts reached 75/2 at lunch on the opening day of the third and final Test at the Holkar cricket stadium here on Saturday.
All eyes were on veteran opener Gautam Gambhir (29), who made a comeback to the national team after being sidelined for two years, as India decided to bat after skipper Virat Kohli won the toss for the third successive time in the series.
Coming in as a replacement for the aggressive Shikhar Dhawan, who injured his left thumb during the Kolkata Test, Gambhir started with a four to set the tone for the first ever Test match played at the venue.
When Matt Henry tested him with two short deliveries, the Delhi southpaw unleashed two consecutive pull shots that carried the ball safely over the ropes. Two more fours took his total to 24 off 20 making the 34-year-old’s intent loud and clear.
His opening partner Murali Vijay (10) produced two classy fours off pacer Trent Boult but soon fell prey to off-spinner Jeetan Patel, who induced the right-hander to flick before being caught by Tom Latham at short-leg.
Encouraged by the result, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson immediately introduced spin from both ends employing Mitchell Santner but one down Cheteshwar Pujara and Gambhir did not give the left-armer any chance.
Boult then came back to break through the defence of Gambhir when he angled one across that thudded low on the back pad of the left-hander which was enough for the umpire to raise the finger.
With both the openers back, Kohli (7 not out) joined Pujara (29 not out) in the middle and the duo saw through the opening session without any more hiccups as the umpires called for lunch when India reached 75/2.
Earlier, both the teams made two changes each, with Gambhir and pacer Umesh Yadav replacing Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar for India while the Kiwis welcomed their skipper Williamson back into the playing XI along with all-rounder James Neesham filling in for Henry Nicholls and Neil Wagner respectively.
Brief Scores: India 75/2 in 26 overs (Pujara 29 not out, Gambhir 29) vs New Zealand (Patel 1/7, Boult 1/23)