Off-spinner Ravichandra Ashwin ended with match figures of 12 for 85 as Indian won the first cricket Test against New Zealand by an innings and 115 runs on the fourth day at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium at Uppal here Sunday
The visitors were all out for 164 runs in the second innings after India had enforced the follow-on. The Kiwis had scored 159 in the first innings in reply to India's 438.
Man-of-the-Match Ashwin took a dozen wickets in 43.2 overs, the best match figures by an Indian bowler against New Zealand. He had picked up six for 31 in the first innings. The other Indian spinner, Pragyan Ojha, claimed six wickets for 92 in the match.
The Kiwis collapsed like proverbial ninepins as they lost nine wickets for 66 runs on the penultimate day of the rain-hit match. The Indian spinners dominated the show after a fine 159 by Cheteshwar Pujara had helped India amass a 400-plus total in the first two days.
Dhoni with Ashwin. Photo: AFP
It took just seven overs for India after the tea break to seal the victory and go one up in the two-match series. The Black Caps, who were at one stage fighting well at 98 for one were reduced to 146 for six at tea and lost the remaining wickets for the addition of another 18 runs after the break.
Resuming at their overnight 41 for one, after play was delayed by two hours due to rain, Brendon McCullum (42) and Kane Williamson (52) looked set for a big score. Playing defiantly against the Indian spinners, they denied the hosts any breakthrough till lunch. The score was then 92 for one.
The first breakthrough of the day for India came in the third over after lunch but in a rather controversial manner. McCullum was adjudged leg before to Umesh Yadav when an inside edge seemed to have hit the pad as he tried to defend. With no DRS, the Kiwi opener had no option but to walk back to the pavilion. He was furious, shaking his head repeatedly and tossing the bat from one hand to the other as he walked towards the dressing room.
McCullum and Williamson resumed well in the morning and denied any breakthrough to India in the first session. For the first time, the Kiwi batsmen showed some character against Indian spinners and executed their game plan well.
However, in the post-lunch session, the hosts turned the tables on Black Caps with the fall of McCullum. Skipper Ross Taylor (7) failed yet again as he was deceived by a Ashwin delivery, which sharply came in hitting the stumps. The lost of two wickets in quick succession shortly after lunch brought the pressure back on the visitors.
Williamson along with Flynn then tried to steer the inning. The two added 33 runs for the fourth wicket before Ojha struck again to remove Williamson. A thick outside edge landed safely into the hands of Virender Sehwag at the first slip, bringing an end to Williamson's inning. He was the most successful batsman for the New Zeland scoring 52 off 163 balls with four hits to the fence.
Ashwin dealt another blow when he trapped Daniel Flynn (11) in front of the stumps. The Kiwis slumped to 142 for five and Indian camp was already sensing victory.
James Franklin (5), who was the top scorer for the Kiwis in the first innings with an unbeaten 43, did not last long. Sehwag at the first slip dived to his right and took a sensational one-hand catch after wicket keeper Dhoni was also beaten by a ball which bounced and was sharply drifting away. It was a beauty from Ashwin, who claimed the ninth wicket of the match.
After denying Indian bowlers any success in the morning session, New Zealand lost five wickets with the addition of 54 runs between lunch and tea.
The worst was yet to come for them. There was no change of fortunes after the tea as Indian spinners tightened their grip on the tail-enders. Competing with his spin partner at the other end, Ojha dismissed Doug Bracewell (1) in the second over after tea.
Ashwin claimed 10th wicket when he had Kruger Van Wyk (13) leg before the wicket. The Kiwi wicket keeper batsman attempted a sweep shot but found himself trapped before the stumps.
The spinner completed the formalities in his next over. Boult had no clue to a ball which spun, took an outside edge and once again Sehwag took a low catch at the first slip. This was his third catch of the day.
Two balls later, Ashwin trapped Chris Martin in front of the stumps to give India their first victory after the defeat in eight tests. Ashwin also completed his second six wicket haul of the match and a holiday crowd of over 20,000 erupted in joy.