New Zealand took two quick wickets to rein in a rapid start to India’s innings, leaving the tourists 101 for two at lunch on the first day of the third cricket at the Basin Reserve on Friday.
Virender Sehwag hit 48 from 51 balls as India rushed to 73 in the 16th over, challenging New Zealand’s decision to bowl on winning the toss, before he and opening partner Gautam Gambhir were out in the space of nine balls.
Sehwag had hit seven fours and a six and seemed set for his first half century of the series, following his earlier scores in the three-test series of 24, 8 not out, 34 and 22, when he fell to Iain O’Brien.
Gambhir had made 23 in 79 minutes when he followed Sehwag, trapped lbw by James Franklin as the New Zealand change bowlers struck after the new-ball pair of Chris Martin and Tim Southee failed to make a breakthrough.
New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori indicated he would gamble if he won the toss and would send India in on a pitch which looked dry, brown and hard and unlikely to assist his four-pronged seam attack.
He took that step when India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, returning after missing the second test with a back injury, called incorrectly and gave New Zealand the chance to implement a risky game plan.
Vettori almost immediately had cause to regret his decision as India, with Sehwag in dominant form, rushed to 50 in only 44 minutes and to 68 without loss by the end of the first hour.