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Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli have added 167 runs for the fourth wicket AFP

India were stuttering at 100 for 3. The middle-order conundrum was yet again surfaced. At crease was India captain Virat Kohli. He had not scored a century at home in 3 years. He had not scored a century as a Test captain at home. To add to the fire, he had not scored a single fifty in the last 8 innings. For a player of his aura and stature, this is ordinary. In fact, the last time he crossed 50 runs was in the West Indies. He scored a double-hundred, becoming the only Indian captain to achieve so on foreign soil. Live cricket scorecard: India vs New Zealand, 3rd Test

He would not agree if one asks if he is under pressure. He would say that failure does not concern him. All the same, that’s Kohli for you. He does not get bogged down. He takes the bull by its horn. Use as many idioms as you can, and you still would be short of describing the kind of personality he is. It was Wriddhiman Saha and Cheteshwar Pujara in the first two matches who piled up the vital runs. Meanwhile, Kohli got out playing rash shots. However, it is not easy to criticise, for he has the knack of quashing his critics.

He did the same. He scored a characteristic hundred on Day One of the third and final Test against New Zealand. He edged the ball past slips. There were play-and-miss strokes. There were false strokes, in fact. If one closely followed his innings, he would say Kohli was lucky to have survived. However, he reached the three-figure mark, despite being rattled by New Zealand’s bowling unit. And he reached hundred for the 13th time in the longest format. He, as a matter of fact, has more hundreds than half-centuries (12).

He remained unbeaten on 130, taking India to 267 for 3.

India lead three-match series 2-0. Given they are in the driver’s seat, they are likely to clean-sweep New Zealand. Not that they have not whitewashed New Zealand before. Those were two-match series, as a matter of fact. If they beat New Zealand 3-0, this would be the first instance. Also read: Virat Kohli capable of leading ODI team well: Harbhajan Singh

Amidst the ‘Virat Kohli’ special, Indore’s Holkar Stadium made headlines as well. Over 18,000 attended the match. They showed the same energy the crowds these days show in shorter formats. There were chants of ‘Sachin, Sachin’, like it is in every other Indian stadium. Nonetheless, the Test played in Kanpur and Kolkata did not witness spectators in such quantity.

In addition, when Gautam Gambhir came to bat, the crowd went berserk (somewhere down the line, they do remember his crucial knock in ICC Cricket World 2015). And the southpaw did not disappoint Indore. He played a brisk 29-run innings. Plus, his consecutive sixes off Matt Henry brought the crowd on its feet. He looked promising. He looked good for a long innings. However, New Zealand’s collective bowling effort made sure India do not score runs with ease. To make matters worse for India, Kane Williamson kept making bowling changes.

Speedster Trent Boult trapped Gambhir in front.

On the other hand, Cheteshwar Pujara continued his good form, but yet again failed to covert his start into a hundred. Kohli then took the charge and the rest was history.

However, Kohli was not the only one who provided the much-needed impetus. It was imperative for other middle-order batsman to step up and take India out of trouble as well. That’s when Ajinkya Rahane burst into the scenes. Also read: SC rejects plea asking to overrule ban imposed on CSK

Like Kohli, Rahane struggled to find his feat as well. Bouncers were being hurled at him. A leg-slip and forward short-leg were being placed to bog him down. He top-edged a few. He looked uncomfortable at the crease, but still managed to survive. Truth be told, New Zealanders have been unlucky throughout the series. They did punch well above their weight, but ended up being on the losing side. That’s been the story on Day One as well.

Day Two is expected to bring forth top-class cricket as well. Rahane will look to score hundred. Meanwhile, Kohli will aim to reach new milestones.

Expect India’s complete dominance in the remainder of the match. However, New Zealand have the knack of bouncing back. If they manage to restrict India below 400, they still have a chance to end the series on a winning note.

(Kaustubh S. Mayekar, a reporter at CricketCountry, played cricket at U-16 level. Like his idol Rahul Dravid, he often shadow-practises cricket shots. His Twitter handle is @kaumedy_)