KANPUR, India, (Reuters) – India celebrated their 500th test in style when they overcame New Zealand’s final dogged resistance with mesmeric spin and masterful swing to claim the series opener by 197 runs yesterday.
New Zealand were always going to do well to manage anything more than delaying the Indian celebrations when they resumed on 93 for four in their pursuit of an improbable 434-run victory target on a track offering generous spin and bounce.
To their credit, they kept the home bowlers at bay for 50 overs on a turning day-five track before collapsing for 236 to give the hosts a comprehensive victory in the milestone test.
Ravichandran Ashwin claimed 6-132 to complete his 10-wicket match haul and prove why he is considered India’s premier spinner. His spin partner Ravindra Jadeja was adjudged man-of-the-match for claiming six wickets and scoring 92 runs without being dismissed in either innings.
“A target of 430-odd on a fifth day wicket is very, very hard to get,” home skipper Virat Kohli told reporters.
“All your batsmen, right till number 10, have to bat really well (to achieve that). We knew it’s just a matter of being patient.
“Having batted on that wicket, and all the batsmen would vouch for this, you could not defend your way out of the game,” Kohli added. When final day’s play began under an overcast sky, overnight batsmen Luke Ronchi and Mitchell Santner (71) continued their resistance against the in-form Indian spinners at Kanpur’s Green Park Stadium.
Kohli predictably began with spin from both ends but the batsmen mixed caution with aggression to defy their hosts.
Left-arm spinner Jadeja finally made the breakthrough when he induced Ronchi into an ill-timed slog against the turn and Ashwin pouched the skier at point. The dismissal pretty much summed up a test in which India’s spin duo, who shared 16 of the 20 Black Cap wickets between them, combined to wreck New Zealand’s hopes of a result.
It was a tame end to Ronchi’s 102-run partnership with Santner, a defiant battle spread over 36 overs that proved the local spinners were not unplayable.
Ronchi hit nine boundaries and a six before his rush of blood to the head ended his innings on 80.
In a match dominated by the spinners, Mohammed Shami also displayed his reverse swing mastery and got one to jag back into BJ Watling’s pad before he uprooted Mark Craig’s middle stump with another swinging delivery.
Craig will now return home to recover from a side strain. He was replaced in the squad by Jeetan Patel.
Santner completed his fifty but was then served a near unplayable ball from Ashwin, which pitched way outside the leg-stump, turned and bounced viciously to kiss the shoulder of the bat before nestling in Rohit Sharma’s waiting hands at silly point. The off-spinner then trapped Neil Wagner leg before to seal the victory.
Kolkata hosts the second of the three tests from Friday.
“They are a good side, particularly in their home conditions and they showed that again,” said New Zealand captain Kane Williamson.
“As a unit, we want to be able to apply pressure for longer, which isn’t always easy in tihs part of the world against a side like India. But it’s certainly a challenge for us moving forward.”
India 1st innings 318 (M. Vijay 65, C. Pujara 62)
New Zealand 1st innings 262 (K. Williamson 75, T. Latham 58; R. Jadeja 5-73, R. Ashwin 4-93)
India 2nd innings 377 for 5 decl (C. Pujara 78, M. Vijay 76, R. Sharma 68no, R. Jadeja 50no)
New Zealand 2nd innings (Overnight: 93-4; Target: 434 runs)
T. Latham lbw b R. Ashwin 2
M. Guptill c Vijay b R. Ashwin 0
K. Williamson lbw b R. Ashwin 25
R. Taylor run out (U. Yadav) 17
L. Ronchi c R. Ashwin b Jadeja 80
M. Santner c Ro. Sharma b R. Ashwin 71
B. Watling lbw b Shami 18
M. Craig b Shami 1
I. Sodhi b R. Ashwin 17
T. Boult not out 2
N. Wagner lbw b R. Ashwin 0
Extras (lb-2 nb-1) 3
Total (all out, 87.3 overs) 236
Fall of wickets: 1-2 M. Guptill,2-3 T. Latham,3-43 K. Williamson,4-56 R. Taylor,5-158 L. Ronchi,6-194 B. Watling,7-196 M. Craig,8-223 M. Santner,9-236 I. Sodhi,10-236 N. Wagner
Bowling M. Shami 8 – 2 – 18 – 2 R. Ashwin 35.3 – 5 – 132 – 6 R. Jadeja 34 – 17 – 58 – 1(nb-1) U. Yadav 8 – 1 – 23 – 0 M. Vijay 2 – 0 – 3 – 0 Referees Umpire: Richard Kettleborough Umpire: Rod Tucker TV umpire: Anil Chaudhary Match referee: David Boon Result: India won by 197 runs.