India has taken the upper hand in the 3 Match Test Series against the Kiwis as they went on to beat the visiting side with a handsome margin of 197 runs.The Islanders last visited India for a test series was back in 2012 where they were bamboozled by the then squad which was marshalled by M.S Dhoni who had a pretty formidable roster to play with.
Fast Forward 4 years and we have a young brigade with immense talent and the appetite for big wins which is being channelized by the new aggressive captain Kohli. India won the toss and chose to bat on the milestone 500th Test.
India had a mediocre 1st innings with the bat as they were restrained to a score of 318. All the kiwi bowlers had a wicket in their kitty. Speaking of the Indian batting, Murli Vijay batted decently after coming back from a minor thumb injury. He was well complimented by Pujara who had an incredible record in the recently concluded Duleep trophy. After the departure of Pujara and Vijay, India faced a hiccup as Kohli, Rahane and Rohit failed to compile adequate runs. Ashwin’s 40 of 91 showed some persistence and he also proved that he wouldn’t walk away without giving the kiwi bolwlers a good fight. Jadeja’s quickfire 42 ensured that India crossed the 300 run mark which gave them some respite on Day 2.
The bowling proceedings looked like it hadn’t gone as planned because Yadav went for some costly overs in the beginning but he reconciled it well as he came back for another spell and claimed the priced scalp of Guptill. The charge from there was taken by Captain Williamson itself as he played spin like a pro. Ashwin and a spinning track is a tough task for world class batsmen to suffice but Williamson made him look like a rookie when he was playing those elegant strokes. The situation was getting tightened for India as it looked like the pair was going for a big total until the spin duo of ashiwn and jadeja came back into form. Ashwin then soon dismissed Williamson with a beautiful delivery which broke Williamson’s defence. Santner and Ronchi looked quite gritty in the middle as they were trying to negate India’s onslaught but they were entangled in the web eventually. Jadeja went onto register another Five-fer while Ashwin bagged 4.
With a good lead, India went to bat with a high morale under their belt. But yet again Rahul failed to score big which made Pujara settle the things in the middle. Since a couple of years, India had a tough time to choose a perfect number 3 in whites; But Pujara is looking to slowly cement this position which he previously played in. A solid partnership between Vijay and Pujara gave the Indian fans another reason to rejoice apart from the brilliant bowling display in the 1st innings. Vijay then departed as Santner trapped him leg before. There was a lot of expectation from Kohli as it was good batting pitch where the ball was coming onto the batsmen pretty well but kohli failed to capitalize and was sent back by off spinner Mark Craig. Pujara also fell in the spin trap as Ish Sodhi bowled a beautiful delivery to get him out. Rahane looked better than the previous innings as he was looking composed, but Santner got better of him. The likes of Jadeja and Rohit went onto stretch India’s lead furthermore which only made the kiwi side morbid. Rohit finally slammed the critics with his unbeaten 68. India soon declared the innings after Jadeja completed his 50 which gave the Islanders an uphill task of chasing 434 runs.
New Zealand looked distorted as they lost Guptill & Latham in the 3rd as Ashwin harnessed the spin offered by the pitch. Ashwin went onto register his 200th Test wicket as he got Williamson out for an LBW and claimed his wicket twice in 2 innings. The islanders were insisting on playing in a defensive manner to stop India’s spin abuse but the wickets kept tumbling. Ross Taylor, the most experienced player to play in the subcontinent for kiwis in this squad didn’t impact the scoreboard in the 1st innings& failed to do so yet again as he was run-out for a paltry 17. The duo of Santner and Ronchi negated Indian bowlers to their maximum extent, for a moment it looked like they could take the kiwis to a Draw but with ashwin in his prime, could not let that happen as he ran riot in Kanpur with a total of 6 wickets in the 2nd innings. This is Ashwin’s 19th Five wicket haul in test matches and also the 5th Ten wicket haul in India.
Despite The New Zealanders couldn’t chase down such a total, they proved their point that they aren’t any less as they had that grit to bat on a spinning track which was showcased by Williamson ,Latham , Santner and Ronchi. Big names such as Kohli and Taylor had a rough outing with the bat as they didn’t contribute enough but their records and stats prove otherwise. Despite Jadeja couldn’t pick a lot of wickets in the 2nd innings, he kept things tight as he was bowling tremendously in the right areas keeping the runs hard to come by. He was rightly adjudged as the man of the match as he powered India to this victory with his all-round performance as he scored a total of 92 runs and picking up 6 wickets, this victory ensured that India jumped to the No1 spot of the Test rankings and pushing Pakistan below.
With an upper hand in the series, India will look to Cash-in big in the coming to test to win the series. The next match between the two sides will take place on the 30th of September at the Eden gardens, Kolkata which will be India’s 250th home match.
– By Akshath Jeksani