India’s Ravindra Jadeja and R. Ashwin after the team’s victory over New Zealand on the 5th Day of first test match at Green Park in Kanpur, Sept. 26. India won the Test match by 197 runs. (Atul Yadav/PTI)
India notched up a mammoth 197-run win in their historic 500th Cricket Test to assert their supremacy in home conditions, bowling out New Zealand for 236 to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series in Kanpur, U.P., writes Amanpreet Singh. – @Siliconeer #siliconeer #Cricket #India #NewZealand #KanpurGreenPark #500thCricketTestMatch #RavichandranAshwin #Kiwis #IndianSpinners #EdenGardens #Kolkata
After setting the Kiwis a rather improbable target of 434, the Indian bowlers, especially senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (6/132), reveled in home conditions to rip through the visiting team’s line-up with more than a session to spare.
Beginning the day at a precarious 93 for four, overnight, New Zealand batsmen Luke Ronchi (80) and Mitchell Santner (71) frustrated the Indian bowlers for only about 20 overs by adding 65 runs in the morning session but that only delayed the inevitable.
The Black Caps raised hopes of a fight till the time Ronchi and Santner held fort but it all went downhill for them when the former played an extravagant slog sweep off Ravindra Jadeja, handing India the opening.
Ashwin (6/132) completed his fifth six-wicket haul by adding scalps of Santner and Ish Sodhi (17) and Neil Wagner (0) to his three wickets grabbed on Day 4, when he had become the second-fastest man to take 200-Test wickets.
Jadeja took one wicket on Day 5, while Mohammed Shami, who got some reverse swing, scalped two batsmen in the morning session.
Ashwin grabbed the remaining three wickets in the post-lunch session to complete India’s victory, their 88th on home turf.
The Kiwis struggled to negotiate a slow track, which offered occasional turn and bounce but improved as the match wore on.
The visitors, chasing a mammoth 434-run target, had a daunting task at hand to bat out three full sessions on the fifth day, which has always been a big challenge for tourists in India.
With this win, India have taken their unbeaten tally on home soil to 11 matches. New Zealand, on the other hand, have remained without a win on the Indian soil since 1998.
Both Jadeja and Ashwin flighted the ball through the air, opting full length most of the time. Ronchi comfortably drove Jadeja in the cover region and Santner did not mind using his feet.
The two Kiwi batsmen soon started to score at a brisk pace with Santner even slog-sweeping Jadeja for a huge six over the mid-wicket region. After persisting with Jadeja and Ashwin for 12 overs, India captain Virat Kohli asked paceman Umesh Yadav to bowl.
They frustrated India for the first hour and the hosts struck in the first over after drinks break when Ronchi was guilty of slogging a Jadeja ball.
That dismissal ended the Black Caps hopes of saving the match as rest of the line-up failed to give Santner the support he needed to negotiate the day.
Both the teams headed to Kolkata, where the second Test was being played.
With this win (and their subsequent win at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata), India and Virat Kohli’s men have regained the No.1 spot in ICC Test rankings from Pakistan, which briefly held the spot for about a month.
After the Kolkata Test, the two teams head to Indore for the series final, which is scheduled from October 8.