Dominant India crush New Zealand

Dominant India crush New Zealand

Bowlers come to party as Dhonis men score an innings and 198-run win to clinch series 1-0

Dominant India crush New Zealand

 All smiles: Indian cricketers strike a happy picture with the trophy after winning the three-Test series against New Zealand on Tuesday. APHaving punched above their weight in the opening two Tests, the Kiwis came seriously unstuck at the first hint of an ‘Indian’ wicket, their second collapse in four days handing Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men a commanding victory, well inside four days, in the third Test.

New Zealand’s resistance on the penultimate day lasted a minute under three hours as they slipped to an embarrassing innings and 198-run defeat, a true dampener given the determination and pride in performance that had characterised their cricket until the final game of the three-Test series.

Trailing by 373 on the first innings and resuming the fourth day on 24 for one, New Zealand were bowled out 29 minutes after lunch for 175, undone by a combination of specialist and part-time spin as well as the incisive Ishant Sharma, quite obviously none the worse off for not having played the last three Tests.

To be fair to the Kiwis, they had been pushed to the point of no-return after the third day, a consequence of India punishing them for a poor first-innings tally of 193 with a massive 566 for eight and a comprehensive advantage.

To bat out time – New Zealand had to survive the better part of five sessions to come away unscathed – given how far behind the eight-ball they were would have necessitated the patience, levels of concentration and skill, and the penchant for batting long that man of the match Rahul Dravid exemplified during his nine and a half-hour marathon. The Kiwis had no one of the calibre of Dravid, so it was always going to be a matter of when rather than whether.

That victory would arrive this quickly, and New Zealand would capitulate so abjectly, was where the surprise lay. Admittedly, the visitors received two very ordinary umpiring decisions – one each from Nigel Llong and the increasingly error-prone Simon Taufel – but it will be stretching the imagination to believe they would have got out of jail had those decisions not gone against them.

Relishing favourable conditions for the first time this series, Pragyan Ojha and man of the series Harbhajan Singh positively enjoyed themselves, getting the ball to turn and bounce and whizzing past the outside edge times without number. Ishant was equally effective on the up-and-down surface, making the most of inconsistent bounce and getting the ball to cut back in sharply off the seam at reasonable pace.

The last thing New Zealand needed when play began on Tuesday was to lose Brendon McCullum early. Naturally aggressive and blessed with oodles of self-belief, McCullum could have taken the fight to India, but his misjudgement of Ojha’s length – he would have been better off playing forward instead of jumping back – elicited a straightforward leg before decision from Taufel in the third over.

Then came the first of three shockers, Martin Guptill amazingly ruled out when Ojha pinged him on the pad after getting the ball to turn sharply upon clearly landing outside leg. That put the left-arm spinner on a hat-trick, easily averted by Ross Taylor who himself was lucky to be ruled not out by Taufel, again off Ojha, attempting a slog-sweep.
Having survived a torrid spell from S Sreesanth, Taylor hit out in desperation even as night watchman Gareth Hopkins stonewalled, until Gautam Gambhir at short-leg pulled off a fantastic catch to his right to get rid of the latter. Taylor was sent on his way by Llong, ruled caught at short-leg off pad alone, and New Zealand were in severe strife.

Jesse Ryder briefly defied India, but by lunch at 124 for eight, the writing was on the wall. Tim Southee used the long handle to good effect and Andy McKay was defiant during the highest stand of the innings, 51 for the ninth, but Ishant returned to knock over Southee and Chris Martin in successive deliveries to drive the final nails home.
India’s third biggest victory ever extended Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s undefeated streak dating back to December 2008. India too haven’t lost a Test series since August 2008 in Sri Lanka, a stat that will be tested when they play South Africa in three and a half weeks’ time.

SCORE BOARD

NEW ZEALAND (I Innings): 193 all out in 66.3 overs
INDIA (I Innings): 566/8 decl in 165 overs
NEW ZEALAND (II Innings, O/n: 24/1):
McIntosh lbw Harbhajan    8
(38m, 30b)
McCullum lbw Ojha    25
(58m, 38b, 4x4)
Hopkins c Gambhir b Harbhajan    8
(50m, 35b, 1x4)
Guptill lbw Ojha    0
(5m, 1b)
Taylor c (sub) Pujara b Harbhajan    29
(54m, 41b, 4x4)
Ryder c Ishant b Raina    22
(84m, 53b, 1x4)
Williamson b Ishant    8
(35m, 25b)
Vettori lbw Raina    13
(25m, 20b, 2x4)
Southee b Ishant    31
(46m, 25b, 3x6)
McKay (not out)    20
(36m, 39b, 2x4)
Martin b Ishant    0
(1b, 1b)
Extras (B-10, LB-1)    11
Total (all out, 51.2 overs)    175
Fall of wickets: 1-18 (McIntosh), 2-38 (McCullum), 3-38 (Guptill), 4-62 (Hopkins), 5-93 (Taylor), 6-110 (Williamson), 7-123 (Ryder), 8-124 (Vettori), 9-175 (Southee).
Bowling: Sreesanth 7-3-25-0, Ishant 6.2-2-15-3, Ojha 17-2-67-2, Harbhajan 19-4-56-3, Raina 2-1-1-2.

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