India’s milestone 500th test has yielded the desirable result for the home side with the Virat Kohli-led team notching up a comfortable 197 run win against New Zealand in Kanpur.
It seemed unlikely at the end of the second day that New Zealand could lose the match. With captain Virat Kohli having a quiet Test, Indian spinners rose to the occasion as they broke the back of the kiwi side early on in the morning session on the third day.
Here are six crucial turns by Indian players that helped the side win the Kanpur test.
Ravichandran Ashwin: The beguiling off-spinner has been India’s trump card in test matches for some time now and he didn’t let his side down when they needed him the most. New Zealand, cruising to massive score on day 3 with Kane Williamson and Tom Latham at the crease, were toppled when Ashwin took a couple of wickets in quick succession including the dismissal of the kiwi captain to bowl them out for 262 runs. Ashwin’s dismissal of Williamson with a ball which knocked the bails off the wicket was the highlight of the match.
On the fourth day of the test, Ashwin, a man with many records to his name, added another one. He became the second faster bowler to reach the 200 test wickets milestone, behind Australia’s Clarrie Grimmett. Ashwin took 37 tests to reach the landmark compared to Grimmett’s 36.
Ashwin finished the test with impressive bowling figures of 4-93 and 6-132 in the first and second innings respectively.
Ravindra Jadeja: The left-arm spinner may not have had steady numbers on foreign tours but he is a different beast on home turf. Foxing the opposition throughout the test, with one maiden over after another, Jadeja took the role of the second spinner with élan as he seized five priceless kiwi wickets in the first innings including that of Ross Taylor and Luke Ronchi.
Jadeja had a quieter second innings with only one scalp to his name but more than made up for it with his batting, putting up an important partnership of 100* runs for the sixth wicket with Rohit Sharma to take India to respectable score of 377-5.
Jadeja finished the test with bowling figures of 5-73 and 1-58 in the first and second innings respectively. He also scored 42 and 50 not out for his side.
Murali Vijay: India’s right-hand opener has had a consistent run at the top in the past couple of years and the Kanpur test was no different. Putting up important partnerships with Cheteshwar Pujara in the first innings and K.L. Rahul in the second, Vijay scored crucial half-centuries on both the occasions. He’d have liked a century against his name given his form but that was not to be.
Vijay finished the test with 65 and 76 runs in the first and second innings respectively.
Cheteshwar Pujara: Coming back into the Indian side with a lot to prove, India’s No.3 Pujara grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Refusing to play second fiddle to Vijay in their 133-run partnership for the 2nd wicket in India’s second innings, he scored freely to make 78 runs.
Pujara also had a good start to the match with 68 to his credit which he made in the first innings including an important partnership with Vijay of 112 runs. He’ll go into the second match of the series with a lot of confidence.
K.L. Rahul: Rahul has had a tumultuous start to his career with some on and off performances, including in this one. He’ll rue his chances of converting rock-solid starts in both the innings but his contributions have more to them than the numbers suggest. Whether it was his 42-run opening stand with Vijay in the first innings or 52-run one in the second, he provided the starts that the Indian top order needed to breathe easy.
Rahul finished the test with 32 and 39 runs in the first and second innings respectively.
Rohit Sharma: Questions over Sharma’s place in the Indian test side have remained for as long as he’s had a test career. In view of that, ideally, he’d have liked to make a statement in India’s first innings. India were struggling and he had the chance, and the start but once again got out to an irresponsible shot at 35 runs leaving his side in the lurch.
Sharma, though, seemed more sure-footed in the second innings where he provided India the depth they’d have wanted from their No.6. His 100-run stand with Jadeja gave India the momentum to carry in the last innings of the test.
Looking forward to claim ICC’s top test ranking, India have started the series on a positive note. They play their next test at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, which, as it turns out, will be India’s 250th home test.
India (1st innings): 318 all out.
New Zealand (2nd innings): 262 all out.
India (3rd innings): 377-5
New Zealand (4th innings): 236 all out.