India 566 for 8 dec. (Dravid 191, Dhoni 98, Gambhir 78, Sehwag 74) beat New Zealand 193 (Ryder 59, Ishant 4-43, Ojha 3-57) and 175 (Ishant 3-15, Harbhajan 3-56) by an innings and 198 runs
Finally the actors returned to the original script. The groundsman was the first person to get the revised lines: the ball turned and bounced, kicked and spat angrily, not from day one but the third evening onwards. With a big lead in the bag, the Indian bowlers got into character without wasting time. They were all over the New Zealand batsmen, who were surrounded by all kinds of close-in fieldsmen. The arm balls arrived too to trap the unsure, who crumbled under pressure, as almost everybody thought they were supposed to right through the series. The umpires felt the heat too, which is expected with the ball dancing and a gang of fielders around the bat.
As the three spinners shared the wickets – Suresh Raina being the third – and Ishant cleared up the tail, the Test win that India had to wait for for longer than expected arrived remarkably quickly, half an hour after lunch on the fourth day. It was also India’s third-biggest win.
Pragyan Ojha has spent most of his young career bowling on slow and low tracks, and has come across as restrictive and robotic. It might still be too early to call – given the buffer of runs and the assistance from the pitch – but Ojha showed today he can attack too. He started by outsmarting Brendon McCullum, who tried the old bullying tactic of hitting early boundaries and trying to get the fielders out of his face. Ojha kept pitching the ball up, flighting it, giving it the best chance to turn and bounce. McCullum played back, and Ojha did the thing to do on a turner, slip in the straighter one. Dead plumb.
However, because the pitch was offering so much turn, the decision to give Martin Guptill lbw was ordinary. Being Ojha’s regulation offbreak, it could either have pitched within the stumps or hit the stumps. As the replays showed, it was hitting the stumps all right, but after having pitched outside leg.
Harbhajan, who set the template of mixing in the straighter ones yesterday, came to get nightwatchman Gareth Hopkins with a flighted, dipping offbreak. Gautam Gambhir, who showed signs of return to form with the bat during this match, made the lunging bat-pad catch to his right, two balls after he was hit a by a full-blooded sweep from Ross Taylor.
Taylor, who was troubled by the outswing from Sreesanth in the morning, decided there was no point in hanging around and waiting for the one that jumps at him and takes the edge. So he started moving across and throwing his bat around, along the way surviving one plumb lbw when he missed a sweep right in front of the stumps. As it turned out, he didn’t have to wait for the one that jumps and takes the edge: he was given caught bat-pad off the pad.
Taylor was so bemused he laughed all the way back to the pavilion, and Guptill, Jesse Ryder’s runner, was so stunned he found it tough to close his gaping mouth. Ryder was the only batsman who looked at ease against the turning ball, but he got out trying to dominate the part-time spin of Raina, the second time he has fallen to the bowler.
Raina was not done yet. In his second over, he bowled the straighter one too, trapping Daniel Vettori in front, the third time he has taken the New Zealand captain.
Tim Southee swung the bat a little bit, hitting three sixes, but he only delayed the inevitable. This game will also be remembered for Chris Martin’s first duck against India in six Tests.
With the breaking of New Zealand’s resistance complete, India have not lost any of their last nine series. However, given the big difference in the two teams’ rankings, the 1-0 result earned India a one-rating-point penalty in the ICC Test rankings.
Toss New Zealand, who chose to bat
Series India won the 3-match series 1-0
Player of the match R Dravid (India)
Player of the series Harbhajan Singh (India)
Close of play
20 Nov day 1 – New Zealand 1st innings 148/7 (BB McCullum 34*, TG Southee 7*, 56 ov)
21 Nov day 2 – India 1st innings 292/2 (R Dravid 69*, SR Tendulkar 57*, 82 ov)
22 Nov day 3 – New Zealand 2nd innings 24/1 (BB McCullum 15*, GJ Hopkins 1*, 11 ov)
23 Nov day 4 – New Zealand 2nd innings 175 (51.2 ov) – end of match
Courtesy : CricInfo
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