India now hold the advantage in the third Test courtesy of a back-to-form Virat Kohli century, but New Zealand's Jimmy Neesham feels that the Kiwis are still right in the mix. The all-rounder admitted that there was nothing much on offer from the pitch but hoped for quick wickets in the morning.
India had been pegged back by the early wickets of both its openers in the morning session – Murali Vijay continued his miserable form, while comeback man Gautam Gambhir failed to shine after some initial bling. But skipper Virat Kohli reversed his long streak of poor scores and scored a century to help the hosts finish day 1 at a formidable 267/3. Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane provided able support to the captain with a 79.
"Keeping the run rate below three was a good achievement.
He did, however, admit that the Kiwi bowlers could have anything much differently on the day with the pitch offering little to no assistance for the bowlers.
"I don't know if we could have done it a whole lot different with the ball. We stuck at it well. It was tough work for the seamers. There was not a lot of bounce or lateral movement. If you can't get the ball reverse swinging, it's difficult
"We started a touch loose but over the day we kept a lid on the run rate but Ajinkya and Virat batted well for most of the second half of day. India's honours in the end.
"It was a bit cooler than the first two Tests, so better from a hydration point of view. There wasn't a whole lot of lateral movement, so hard to get guys out. Hopefully, spinners can get more out of it as it starts to break up," he added.
Neesham had a half-chance to get Virat Kohli out on the brink of the century, but his throw at the non-striker's end stumps came a tad bit late.
Speaking about it, Neesham said, "I, at that point, was pretty confident he would run to get it as quickly. I took a couple of steps in but Virat made the ground quite comfortably. But it was fair enough the umpires checked upstairs. Bat could've bounced."
Neesham was also all praise for vice-captain Rahane who weathered the Kiwi's strategy of peppering him with short balls.
"We had a short ball plan for Ajinkya, more so than Virat. He's looked a bit uncomfortable there, which piqued our interest. He managed to tough it out and get through and that's the sign of a quality Test batsman."