World No.1 finally show their class
Spinners Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha wreaked havoc on a turning track as India recorded one of their most convincing Test wins in recent times by thrashing New Zealand by an innings and 198 runs in third and final Test to clinch the three-match series 1-0 at Nagpur on Tuesday. Atreyo Mukhopadhyay reports. India's biggest wins in Tests | Wrong ones in this seriescricket Updated: Nov 24, 2010 02:10 IST
From India's point of view, this contest was like taking a penalty-kick in football where scoring doesn't fetch accolades but failure invariably draws flak. A successful conversion though still gives satisfaction and the No. 1 Test team deserves its share of that for translating 14 days of toil against the world No. 8 side into a series win.
For New Zealand, the rigours of being outplayed for three days proved too much in the end. Not favoured to save the third Test after frustrating India in the first two, they crumbled without even a semblance of resistance on the fourth day prompting Mahendra Singh Dhoni to say that he didn't expect it to be this easy.
Bundled out in the first innings and kept on the field by India's batsmen for nearly 12 hours, the visitors didn't have anything left in them to make the hosts wait longer and the manner of their innings and 198-run capitulation suggested that they had lost well before play resumed on Tuesday.
Brendon McCullum jumped out of his crease and escaped despite closing the face of his bat early, off the day's first ball bowled by Pragyan Ojha. This restlessness remained a feature of New Zealand's approach for the rest of the day, which lasted just 40.2 overs.
Throwing bat at ball every now and then even when they lost wickets, New Zealand showed how hopeless their chances of salvaging anything from this game were.
Captain Daniel Vettori said as much after his team's agony ended.
"We were not in the match after being bowled out for 193 in the first innings after winning an important toss. In this part of the world, the first innings keeps you in the game and then it's up to your bowlers to take wickets. It didn't happen here."
Resuming at 24 for one, New Zealand were four down inside 10 overs with spinners doing the damage. Having said that, it was hard to overlook that the assistance Harbhajan Singh and Ojha got from the pitch was not enough to bring a Test batting line-up down on its knees. Sreesanth was much more threatening in the four overs he bowled first up and between them, the frontline spinners had just nine wickets in the match including five in the second innings.
"We are disappointed with our performance. We knew we had to be positive this morning but a couple of dismissals did us in. There was a period where India bowled well but once you get through the new hard ball, it's a wicket where you can bat on for a long time," said Vettori.
New Zealand though looked disinterested in prolonging matters and even specialist batsmen such as Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder weren't inspired enough to add runs to their personal kitties.
A half-century or more wouldn't have dented India's chances of clinching the series, but it would have done no harm to their career statistics.
Proof of that not being motivation enough lay in the way their batsmen went after the bowlers with disastrous consequences.