INDORE, India (Reuters) - Martin Guptill shrugged off his poor form and Tom Latham registered a third fifty of the series as New Zealand mounted a strong reply to India's big first innings total on day three of the third and final test on Monday.
Latham added 118 runs with Guptill for the first century-plus opening stand of the series before giving a return catch to off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to depart after a well-made 53 which included seven boundaries.
New Zealand were 125 for one at lunch, still 432 behind India's massive first innings total of 557-5 declared, with Guptill (59) and skipper Kane Williamson (three) in the middle.
Resuming on 28-0, Latham and Guptill were positive in their mindset and decisive in their footwork against the Indian spinners, even though both had their share of luck.
Guptill was on 21 when he edged paceman Mohammed Shami but Ajinkya Rahane spilled the catch at gully that came at stomach height.
Guptill landed in India with question marks over his place in the test squad and scores of 21, 0, 13 and 24 in the last two tests did little to silence the doubters.
However, the right-hander confirmed he had rediscovered his touch when he blasted Ravindra Jadeja for his second six and hit the left-arm spinner for a boundary to bring up his 17th test fifty.
Latham, too, brought up his fifty with a boundary off the spinner but was lucky to be given the benefit of the doubt when he dragged the ball onto his boot while sweeping and was caught by Rahane at slip.
The Indians made a vociferous appeal but umpire Bruce Oxenford was unmoved.
Ashwin, however, ensured Latham's stay did not last much longer when he sent down a teasing off-break in the next over which the batsman played across and spooned a leading edge back to the bowler.
India hold an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by John O'Brien)