Ashwin spins India to 197-run win over New Zealand

Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami were the heroes for India as it defeated New Zealand by 197 runs.

Kohli & Co are ecstatic after securing a win over New Zealand in Kanpur on Monday.   -  PTI

Luke Ronchi, along with Mitchell Santner, led New Zealand’s resistance for 20 overs in the morning. Then, with a fatal slog-sweep, he gave in, allowing the Indians to barge in and blow away the New Zealand tail for a 197-run win to celebrate its 500th Test.

> Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

To avoid defeat New Zealand had to plan: a) bat throughout the day, or b) chase 434 for the first time in Test cricket. On a fifth day track, against Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, with four of its batsmen already down, both were perilous proposals. Attacking all-out could result in quick dismissals. Ashwin and Jadeja would trap its batsmen if it defends too much.

READ - >Kohli: 'It's priceless to have Ashwin in the team'

But on the final morning of this Test, Ronchi and Santner didn’t seem too consumed with the outcome. They employed the best of their judgement against the spinners.

Santner, playing his first Test in India, batted better than his team-mates in the top-order. He blocked — lunging forward and anchoring back, drove — rarely in the air, and slog-swept Jadeja over the mid-wicket ropes when the spinner gifted him with a delivery full and slow on the sixth stump line.

 

The ball he got out to would’ve troubled the best of batsmen. Ashwin, coming over the wicket to the left-hander, pitched the ball way wide of the leg-stump. Santner, expecting turn and bounce, went on the backfoot and presented a straight bat. But the ball, with too much spin and a bounce too high, clipped his outside edge and landed on Rohit Sharma’s palms at second slip. The delivery was too good, Santner smiled at it.

Ronchi, like Kane Williamson and Tom Latham in the first innings, read the Indian spinners, especially Ashwin, well. There were a few good-length deliveries, floated by Ashwin, that would have ripped into the stumps. But Ronchi had enough time to change his position to cut or block the ball.

"Ronchi and Santner were both fantastic, particularly today with the ball spinning sharply. The way Santner applied himself with bat and ball and the way Ronchi played coming back into the team was fantastic,” said New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson after the match.

> Read: Kane Williamson: ‘Santner and Ronchi were outstanding’

For 20 overs, they irked India. Virat Kohli grimaced as Cheteshwar Pujara, at short-leg, couldn’t catch a ball that was hardly in the air after it brushed Santner’s inside-edge.

Then Ronchi’s will wilted. He tried to slog-sweep Jadeja’s fast, flat delivery pitched on the middle and off stump, over the mid-wicket boundary. But the ball struck his top edge and ballooned to Ashwin at point, ending his 102-run stand with Santner.

Mohammad Shami, aided by the cracks and a two-faced ball — rough on one side and shining in the other — dismissed B. J. Watling and Mark Craig without more ado.

Ashwin and Jadeja scoured the rest of New Zealand a little while after lunch for a 1-0 lead in the series.

"On the scorecard it looks like a biggish defeat but there were a couple of moments that I would reflect on as where the game turned slightly more in their favour,” said Williamson. New Zealand’s last four scoring two runs was one of them. Batting twice, they have contributed only 22. Willamson would hope for better as he leads his young side to Kolkata.