The 23-year-old hit one six and 12 fours in his second successive Test half-century as the hosts, struggling at 80-4 at one stage, reached 283-5 in their first innings at stumps in reply to New Zealand’s 365. Kohli, who made 58 in the last Test, added 99 for the fifth wicket with Suresh Raina (55) and 104 for the unfinished sixth-wicket stand with Mahendra Singh Dhoni (46 not out) to keep alive his team’s hopes of gaining the lead.
India now trail by 82 runs with five wickets in hand. Dhoni, who scored 73 in the opening Test, hit off-spinner Jeetan Patel for two successive sixes over wide long-on and mid-wicket in his 70-ball knock which also contained five fours. India, who won the opening Test by an innings and 115 runs, lost experienced Virender Sehwag (43), Gautam Gambhir (two) and Sachin Tendulkar (17) before Kohli, Raina and Dhoni propped up the innings.
New Zealand’s pacemen bowled well to keep pressure on India, with Tim Southee finishing the day with 3-35 and Doug Bracewell with 2-66. Raina, trying to cement his place in the middle order, was caught by wicket-keeper Kruger van Wyk down the leg-side off Southee after hitting one six and nine fours in his seventh Test half-century.
Stumped off a Patel no-ball when on 48, Raina counter-attacked to ease the pressure as he hit Bracewell for three successive fours and then smashed Southee for two boundaries in an over. Southee removed opener Gambhir and Cheteshwar Pujara (nine) in his sharp opening spell in the morning, while Bracewell dismissed Sehwag and Tendulkar in his successive overs after lunch.
Gambhir, dropped on one by Brendon McCullum in the slips off paceman Trent Boult, failed to make the most of the chance as he was bowled offering no stroke to a delivery that came in. Pujara, who scored a solid 159 in the last Test, was caught by Boult at long leg while hooking. Opener Sehwag fell immediately after hitting Bracewell for a four in the opening over of the afternoon session, caught by Daniel Flynn at short mid-wicket. He cracked eight fours in his 60-ball knock.
Bracewell then got a big wicket in his next over when he bowled Tendulkar to put more pressure on the hosts. India’s left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha earlier finished with 5-99, his third haul of five or more wickets in a Test innings, as New Zealand added 37 runs in 8.4 overs to their overnight total of 328-6. Fast bowler Zaheer Khan was the first to strike when he had van Wyk (71) caught by Raina in the slips.
The New Zealand wicket-keeper added just eight runs to his overnight score of 63. He cracked nine fours in his maiden Test half-century and added 99 runs for the seventh wicket with Bracewell (43). Bracewell, who was unbeaten on 30 on Friday, was run out after scoring 13 runs in the morning.