Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara slammed his maiden century to take hosts past 250 on day 1 of the first of two-match Test series played at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on Thursday.
SCORECARD: INDIA vs NEW ZEALAND
Pujara took 169 balls to reach the milestone and smashed 15 boundaries including a massive six in the process.
Cheteshwar Pujara struck a fluent unbeaten half-century as India reached 182 for three at tea.
At tea, Pujara was batting on 54 from 121 balls (6×4) while Virat Kohli was giving him fine support with 32 (64b, 4×4) in India’s first innings after the hosts elected to bat first at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
Hailed as the future of Indian cricket after Rahul Dravid, Pujara lived up to the expectations after being elevated to number three, slamming his second half-century in four Tests.
Pujara, who returned to the Test arena after more than a year, did not panic after the dismissal of veteran Sachin Tendulkar (19) as he along with an in-form Virat Kohli repaired the Indian innings.
The Saurashtra batsman, who returned to action after a knee surgery in London, looked fluent as he along with Kohli put on an unbeaten 57-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
They never seemed to be in any trouble against the Kiwi attack, while against the rookie off-spinner Jeetan Patel, they were at ease.
The Indians lost the wicket of Tendulkar in the second session with the addition of 85 runs in 29 overs.
Playing without the retired duo of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman for the first time in 16 years, India made a brisk start when the opening duo of Gambhir and Sehwag added 49 runs for the first wicket.
But the duo perished to some reckless shots as Boult gave New Zealand the first breakthrough in the form of Gambhir, who chased an outgoing delivery to be caught behind.
Gambhir looked to score in boundaries before his innings came to an end at 22.
Sehwag, after getting a reprieve on 35, did not last long when he was dismissed by Doug Bracewell, three runs shy of a half-century.
Sehwag gave Martin Guptill an easy catch at the second slip to be out for a 41-ball 47.
In his first match after being elected as a Rajya Sabha member, Tendulkar was watchful to start with.
But a stray low delivery from left-arm pacer Boult skidded in to crash Tendulkar’s defence and rattled the middle stump.
It would be a huge task to fill in the void left by the retirement of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, who have a combined tally of 298 Tests and 22,069 runs between them, but the young duo of Pujara and Kohli displayed positive intent.
After being reduced to 125 for three in the post-lunch session with the departure of Tendulkar, Pujara and Kohli played sensibly against an inexperienced Kiwi attack.
India: M S Dhoni (c), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Cheteshwar Pujara, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Pragyan Ojha, Umesh Yadav.
New Zealand: Ross Taylor (c), Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Daniel Flynn, Kane Williamson, James Franklin, Kruger van Wyk, Doug Bracewell, Jeetan Patel, Chris Martin, Trent Boult.