India wraps up proceedings in quick time

Indian players with the trophy after their victory in the test cricket series against New Zealand, at Wankhede stadium in Mumbai, on December 6, 2021.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Forty-three minutes and 69 balls was all it took for India’s spinners to wipe out New Zealand’s lower order and register a 372-run win — India’s biggest Test victory in terms of runs — to pocket the two-Test series 1-0 at the Wankhede Stadium here on Monday.

Riding on the off-spin wizardry of Jayant Yadav and R. Ashwin, India picked up the remaining five wickets for just 27 runs on the fourth morning to bundle New Zealand out for 167 runs and add 12 vital points to its World Test Championship kitty.

New Zealand being 400 runs adrift with five wickets in hand and two full days remaining, the challenge for Henry Nicholls and Rachin Ravindra was to try and frustrate India’s spin trio.

Beginning of the end

But the off-spinners — employed from the start with left-handers at the crease — spelt doom yet again on a turning track. After being swept for successive boundaries in the seventh over, Jayant rectified his length and all Ravindra could manage was a nick to Cheteshwar Pujara at second slip.

That opened the floodgates as the game was all over in the next 28 balls. Jayant, who has been under Ashwin’s tutelage for half-a-dozen years, picked up two in his next over.

He first got one to turn sharply into Kyle Jamieson to trap him leg-before and then tossed it up to Tim Southee to tempt him into a charge down the wicket, miss the line and be bowled.

When Mayank Agarwal caught a bat-pad lob to dismiss Will Somerville in Jayant’s next over, he was on the verge of a five-wicket haul and keeping Ashwin waiting to join Anil Kumble as India’s second bowler with 300 Test wickets at home.

Ashwin’s landmarks

But Ashwin fittingly reached the landmark and ended the match in his next over. He enticed Nicholls into stepping out for Wriddhiman Saha to whip the bails off.

Ashwin also became the second-quickest to earn 300 Test wickets at home, taking just one Test more than Muttiah Muralitharan’s 48.

That he was adjudged Player-of-the-Series for an incredible 10th time in his career would have come as the icing on the cake.

While Jayant bowled an impressive spell of 6-2-19-4 on the day, Ashwin continued his first-innings love affair with single digits in a spell that read 5.3-2-7-1.

Future assignments

The victory would have given the Indian camp a sense of satisfaction after losing to New Zealand in the World Test Championship final in June and failing to close out the first Test in Kanpur last week.

While the Black Caps will head home and enjoy the Christmas break before taking on Bangladesh at home in the New Year, India will leave for South Africa next week for a thre-Test series starting December 26.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 5:57:55 PM |

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