Cricket

100 says the icing on New Zealand’s victory cake

All at sea! Vihari’s dismissal mirrors India’s abject surrender in the first Test.

All at sea! Vihari’s dismissal mirrors India’s abject surrender in the first Test.   | Photo Credit: Hagen Hopkins

Southee and Boult combine to inflict an emphatic 10-wicket defeat on fancied India

New Zealand’s 100th Test win, driven typically by team spirit, fittingly arrived at the the Basin Reserve, the soul of the country’s cricket really.

And the feat, an emphatic 10-wicket win against fancied India, arrived in the 100th Test of one of New Zealand’s favourite cricketing sons, Ross Taylor. The icing on the cake really.

As for the Indians, they were blown away at windy Wellington.

Ruthless

Ruthless and clinical on the fourth morning of the first Test, New Zealand required just 16 overs to send back the last six Indian batsmen.

Tim Southee scalped five, and Boult four. Southee was adjudged Man-of-the-Match for his nine wickets in the match.

Four of the wickets on Monday were prised out with the old ball, then Southee scalped two in his first over with the new one as India hurtled to 191 all out.

Openers, Tom Latham and Tom Blundell, knocked off the nine runs required without fuss. New Zealand had clinched the first Test, taking its points to 120 in the World Test Championship. India stays on 360.

The pitch offered some movement and the New Zealand attack posed searching questions, but the Indian batsmen could have put up greater resistance.

In the end, the surrender was meek and out of character for this team that prides itself on fighting till the very end.

The next Test is at Christchurch following a four-day gap. Coach Ravi Shastri is bound to have a tough talk with the boys.

The Kiwis are not the quickest of bowlers but are among the cleverest. The manner in which they mix their lengths, vary angles and assess a batsman underlines their cricketing nous.

There was much planning about every batsman here and the execution, was often, spot-on. They gave little away, bowled in partnerships, created pressure and were backed by a sensational bunch of fielders.

A fine pair

Talking about partnerships, they seldom come better than Boult and Southee. It’s a left-right pair of contrasts and similarities that has now featured in 28 of New Zealand’s Test victories.

Both are swing bowlers who induce the batsmen into drives around the off-stump to find the edges or bring the ball back, or surprise them with well-directed short-pitched deliveries.

It was clever bowling by Boult on the fourth morning, when he went round the wicket and got a delivery to angle into Ajinkya Rahane and then straighten up. The edge was snaffled up gleefully by ’keeper B-J. Watling.

Then, Southee set up Hanuma Vihari brilliantly. Two out-swingers were followed by an in-swinger. Vihari playing for the out-swinger saw the ball zipping back to hit off-stump.

Southee then unleashed a full and straight delivery to trap R. Ashwin leg-before. The batsman chose not to review the decision and was right.

At the other end, Rishabh Pant was playing his brand of strokeplay, swinging pacemen fine for boundaries.

However, he kept losing partners. Ishant Sharma, put down twice, once at short-leg [by Latham] and by Southee at short-cover, was eventually trapped leg-before by a well-pitched-up delivery from Colin de Grandhomme.

Grandhomme has an important role in the New Zealand attack; he bowls longish spells of control and accuracy, choking batsmen for runs, maintaining the pressure.

Terrific catches

Pant’s strength resulted in his downfall. The left-hander went on his knees to swing Southee, operating with the second new ball, only for Boult to dive forward and come up with a terrific catch. The Southee-Boult combination had struck again!

Then Southee’s yorker outside off was somehow edged by Bumrah — nothing has gone right for him in this Test — for substitute Daryl Mitchell to pluck the catch one-handed in the slip cordon.

Southee and Boult were smiling as they walked back. It takes two to tango.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 12:59:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/100-says-the-icing-on-new-zealands-victory-cake/article30906174.ece

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