Southee, Boult shine in New Zealand's 100th Test win

New Zealand beat India by 10 wickets in the opening Test, finishing the game with one full day and a half to spare for a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

New Zealand's Tim Southee with teammates after the match.   -  REUTERS

New Zealand’s 100th Test win, driven typically by team spirit, fittingly arrived at the the Basin Reserve, the soul of the country’s cricket.

And the feat, an emphatic 10-wicket win against the fancied India, arrived in the 100th Test of one of New Zealand’s favourite cricketing sons, Ross Taylor. The icing on the cake. As for the Indians, they were blown away at the windy Wellington.

Ruthless and clinical on the fourth morning of the first Test, New Zealand required just 16 overs to send back the last six Indian batsmen.

Tim Southee scalped five, and Boult four. Southee was adjudged Man of the Match for his nine wickets in the match.

Four of the wickets on Monday were prised out with the old ball, then Southee scalped two in his first over with the new ball as India folded for 191.

As it happened| New Zealand goes 1-0 up with 100th Test win

Openers Tom Latham and Tom Blundell knocked off the nine runs required without a fuss. New Zealand had clinched the first Test, taking its points to 120 in the World Test Championship. India stays on 360. 

The pitch offered some movement and the New Zealand attack posed searching questions but the Indian batsmen could have put up greater resistance.

In the end, the surrender was meek and out of character for this team that prides itself on fighting till the very end. 

The Indians need to introspect before the next Test at Christchurch following a four-day gap. Coach Ravi Shastri is bound to have a tough talk with the boys.  

The Kiwis are not the quickest of bowlers but are among the cleverest. The manner they mix their lengths, vary the angles and assess a batsman underlines their cricketing nous. 

There was much planning about every batsman here and the execution, was often, spot on. The batsmen had their chinks probed relentlessly. 

The New Zealanders gave little away, bowled in partnerships, created the pressure and were backed by a sensational bunch of fielders.

Talking about partnerships, they seldom come better than Boult and Southee. It’s a left-right pair of contrasts and similarities that has now featured in 28 of New Zealand’s Test victories.

Both are swing bowlers who induce the batsmen into drives around the off-stump to find the edges or bring the ball back, or surprise them with well-directed short-pitched deliveries.

READ| Ravi Shastri back to Basin Bridge, 39 years after Test debut

It was clever bowling by Boult on the fourth morning, when he went round the wicket and got a delivery to angle into Ajinkya Rahane (29) and then straighten it. The edge was snaffled up gleefully by ‘keeper Watling.

Then, Southee set up Hanuma Vihari brilliantly. Two outswingers were followed by an inswinger. Vihari, playing for the outswinger, saw the ball zipping back to hit the off-stump.

Southee then unleashed a full and straight delivery to trap R. Ashwin leg-before. The batsman chose not to review the decision and was right.

At the other end, Rishabh Pant was playing his brand of strokeplay, swinging pacemen for boundaries.

READ| Focus on controllables, Rahane's advice to Pant

However, he kept losing partners. Ishant Sharma, put down twice, once at short leg [a reflex catch by Latham] and by Southee at short cover, was eventually trapped leg-before by a well pitched up delivery from Colin de Grandhomme.

Grandhomme has an important role in the New Zealand attack; he bowls longish spells of control and accuracy, choking batsmen for runs, maintaining the pressure.

Pant’s (25) strength resulted in his downfall. The left-hander went on his knees to swing Southee, operating with the second new ball, only for Boult to dive forward and come up with a terrific catch. The Southee-Boult combination had struck again!

Then Southee’s yorker outside off was somehow edged by Bumrah - nothing has gone right for him in the Test - for substitute Daryl Mitchell to pluck the catch one-handed in the cordon. Southee and Boult were smiling as they walked back. It takes two to tango.

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