Young blood, steady hand does the job
Asked a tough question with a 261-run target, India answered with their youngsters. Both Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli battled it out to take India to a five-wicket win, and with it, seal the season's first Test series 2-0. Khurram Habib reports.Poll: Should Sachin retire now? | Captain cool | Scorecard | India whitewash KiwisUpdated: Sep 04, 2012 01:51 IST
Patience and poise pulled it off.
Asked a tough question with a 261-run target, India answered with their youngsters. Both Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli battled it out to take India to a five-wicket win, and with it, seal the season's first Test series 2-0.
First, Pujara patiently tackled the short balls, his undoing in the first innings, and displayed nous even as Sachin Tendulkar struggled at the other end. Then, Virat showed poise, curbing his natural instincts to help MS Dhoni take India home.
The fourth day of the second Test was fought with vigour. The young Kiwi pacemen, in their early 20s, shrugged off early nerves to fight back, but were undone by the Indian duo.
When India came out to bat, their task was made easier by the nervous Kiwi pacemen. Both Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag, so good at giving flying starts, walked in with confidence and ensured the first few shots were off the meat of the bat.
Gambhir clipped the first ball off his toes and then cashed in on the width offered by Trent Boult later in the over with a four.
In the second over, Sehwag flicked the first ball to the square leg fence. A nervous Tim Southee then bowled wide, which was dispatched to the boundary as well.
The two had gathered 77 runs before Sehwag became a victim of indiscretion, bowled by Jeetan Patel as he stepped out, having hit the off spinner for a six the ball before. Gambhir followed soon after, fishing outside off against Boult.
The Kiwis smelt blood with a nervy Tendulkar and young Pujara in. Attacking Pujara's head was the plan as it was fruitful in the first innings.
This time too, he was ready to fall into the trap. He hooked one which he wasn't in command of, before deciding to be more patient.
Perhaps, it was a result of a brief chat Tendulkar had with him. Pujara left the remaining short balls, once beautifully, with the body arching backwards, and played one down the ground. For the rest, he was ready. His body and bat followed his mind even after Tendulkar had been castled, playing across once again.
Suresh Raina tried to repeat the panache he showed in the first innings but fell awkwardly. Watching Virat would have been apt for him.
Virat was on the money, leaving and defending everything the Kiwis threw at him. But he was aware of the opportunities. Off the 16th ball, an exquisite cover drive came out of nowhere and broke the inertia. A straight drive followed and then he went back into a shell. Later, he drove Patel through the cow's corner, his feet to the pitch of the ball.
The fight was on.
Dhoni's arrival helped the flow of runs and he made it easy by picking quick singles. The Kiwis were tiring and towards the close both Dhoni and Virat went into the one-day mode.
In the morning, India had snared the last New Zealand wicket early with the unlucky Zaheer Khan finally getting a scalp. He could have picked a handful of wickets in this series but for dropped catches, umpiring errors and a ball shaving the stump without the bails falling. But this time, the umpire ruled in his favour, despite there being no edge.