The ease with which India dismissed New Zealand in the second innings to win the third and final Test with a huge margin and a day to spare, perhaps gives the impression that the pitch was a raging turner. Nothing can be further than the truth as it was top class bowling by Ravichandran Ashwin along with Ravindra Jadeja that sent New Zealand to their doom.
On the same pitch in the morning Cheteshwar Pujara and Gautam Gambhir had batted with a freedom that was refreshing to see. They took their time to settle down and once they had the measure of the pitch they opened up and played some terrific shots to get India in a position where they could declare.
Kohli waited for Pujara to get to his eighth hundred and his first in a long time but he knew he had plenty of time to spare to get the Kiwis out a second time. Even he wouldn’t have expected the game to finish early but Ashwin had different ideas as he played on the fears of the batsmen to snare another huge haul and end up with thirteen wickets in the game.
In the process he bagged one more man of the series award along with the man of the match award and bids fair to overhaul the others ahead of him in these awards.
Pujara has batted well throughout the series but has not been able to convert those starts into a three figure innings which is his wont in first class cricket. This time he could not be denied as he produced a superb array of shots to get there.
This should be a great morale booster ahead of the Test series against England which starts in a month’s time. With Gambhir also batting well, the selectors will be spoilt for choice when it comes to openers as both Dhawan and Rahul should also be fit by the time the England series starts.
If only the Kiwi batsmen had taken a leaf out of Pujara’s book then they too would have been able to push India. Tom Latham has batted well throughout the series but like Pujara he had been unable to convert the half centuries into a substantial innings.
He had a chance here having scored a half-century in the first innings but his penchant for playing across the line cost him as Yadav bowling with pace and purpose trapped him plumb in front of the stumps.
Williamson was shuffling a bit too much especially on a pitch which had some turn in it and so found himself falling to Ashwin for the fourth time in the series. By going so far across the off-stump he ended up playing at deliveries outside the off-stump and the shuffle was making him play across the line too and making him vulnerable to the ball spinning in.
Guptill found some form but that was not enough to save his team. The rest of the batsmen appeared as if they were in the limited overs mode already and Ashwin just patiently waited to spin them to their doom.
New Zealand showed great persistence in the field but if only they had done the same with the bat they would have had a much better scorecard to show at the end of the series.