India whitewashes New Zealand; Ashwin gets seven

Ravichandran Ashwin picked seven wickets for 53 in the second innings, helping India beat New Zealand by 321 runs.

ravichandran ashwin

Ravichandran Ashwin (left) celebrates a dismissal with his team-mates. The off-spinner took his 21st five-wicket haul.   -  Vivek Bendre

Minutes before the start of Tuesday’s play at the Holkar Stadium, the Indian team, barring Ravichandran Ashwin was involved in a warm-up game of footie. The off-spinner was with head coach Anil Kumble, possibly discussing the best way to exploit the fourth day wicket in Indore to hand an unforgettable Dussehra gift to the fans in Madhya Pradesh.

> SCORECARD AND BALL-BY-BALL UPDATE

One thought that India wouldn't have the time to bowl the visitor out on the penultimate day of the series. But Ashwin and Co. ensured that they dismantled the New Zealand line-up in just a session and half to complete a memorable whitewash.

> PHOTOS: India: Atop the world

Ashwin’s career-best figures (seven for 59) took his match tally to 13 and 27 in the series and ended the Kiwi second innings without any resistance for the first time in the series.

> Disappointed Williamson hopes Kiwis improve in ODI series

At 18 for no loss, with a hefty lead of 276, Murali Vijay and Pujara made a slow start to the day. However, once Pujara was joined by Gautam Gambhir – who recovered from a sore shoulder that forced him to retire hurt on the third evening – after Vijay’s dismissal, the runs started flowing as freely as the holiday crowd did into the stands.

> Kohli: 'Little contributions matter a lot'

The duo appeared untroubled with Kiwi bowlers trying to play the waiting game. Gambhir, with a remodelled stance, rewound the clock with a couple of trademark flicks and drives. However, the moment he reached his fifty – first in nearly four years – he attempted an aerial drive off Jeetan Patel that failed to clear Martin Guptill at short extra cover.

Pujara, however, continued to mint runs at will. From 45 off 93 balls at lunch, the classical batsman upped the ante and completed his eighth hundred off 147 balls before India declared.

Chasing a gargantuan target of 476 with four-and-half sessions remaining in the game, New Zealand played aggressively, which cost it a few wickets.

The moment Ashwin dismissed Kane Williamson, early in his spell, for the fourth time in as many outings, the possibility of an early finish was on the cards. Umesh Yadav had earlier trapped the consistent Tom Latham in the second over of the innings.

To his credit, Ashwin didn’t try too many tricks, he just read the conditions perfectly. It was fitting that he ended the game with a return catch of last man, Trent Boult.