India clinch NZ series, ensure No1 ranking in Tests

Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja spun India to an unassailable 2-0 lead and the No.
India clinch NZ series, ensure No1 ranking in Tests
File Photo

Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja spun India to an unassailable 2-0 lead and the No.1 ranking in Tests, pinning New Zealand down in a riveting see-saw four-day affair, to win the second cricket Test by 178 runs here on Monday.

Local boy Wriddhiman Saha was adjudged Man of the Match for his unconquered 54 and 58 in the two Indian innings at the Eden Gardens.

Besides Saha, contributions with the bat by captain Virat Kohli (45) and Rohit Sharma (82) in the second innings helped India post 263 after a top-order collapse threatened to take the match away from them.

The tourists started their run chase well, riding on opener Tom Latham's (74 not out; 144 balls, 8×4) ninth half-century and contributions from Martin Guptill (24) and Henry Nicolls (24) at the top order.

But post-lunch, the in-form Indian spinners ran through the Kiwi batting. Both Ashwin (3/82) and Jadeja (3/41) made mischief in tandem, joining in the party was the raw pace and swing of Mohammed Shami (3/46), who shaved off the lower order. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/28) claimed the remaining wicket.

Latham departed soon after tea, starting the slide. Ashwin's mastery over his craft was on show as he floated an inviting delivery which forced the opener to drive away from his body giving a nick to wicketkeeper Saha.

Luke Ronchi (32; 60 balls, 4×4) fought briefly before Jadeja accounted for him, castling the 35-year old. Jeetan Patel (2) failed to replicate his first innings form, when he scored a gutsy 47, failing to comprehend the reverse swing generated from a good length ball by Buvneshwar.

Matt Henry (18) and Trent Boult (4) were cleaned up by Jadeja and Shami, respectively.

Earlier, India wrested back the second session from New Zealand as Ashwin and Jadeja took three wickets to deny the tourists any hope of a fightback at tea.

Earlier, resuming at 227 for eight, India were all out for 263 in their second innings.

Wriddhiman Saha, who had run out of partners in the first innings after scoring 54, once again anchored the lower order, remaining not out at 58 (120 balls, 6×4) — his fourth Test half century.

The two overnight batsmen, Saha and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (23; 51 balls, 2×4, 1×6) were involved in a 56-run partnership that helped India cross the 250-mark and set New Zealand a target which no team has ever achieved in the fourth innings at the famed ground.

The stand was broken in the 10th over of the morning session when Bhuvneshwar misjudged the bounce of Neil Wagner's delivery and offered an easy catch to short leg. It was Wagner's 99th wicket in 25 Tests.

The victory also sees India jump back to the top of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test rankings after starting the series just one point behind archrivals Pakistan. 

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