New Zealand seamers deliver thrilling win
The New Zealand seamers kept their wits against an Indian side that was hell-bent on achieving the tallest chase in the country and secured a thrilling 40-run win in Auckland. A fourth-innings century from Shikhar Dhawan, a solid 126-run stand between him and Virat Kohli and an unexpected counter from Ravindra Jadeja kept the game alive. But Neil Wagner, menacing in every spell he bowled, picked up four wickets, including Dhawan, Kohli and MS Dhoni, to help New Zealand take a see-saw Test and hand India their 10th overseas defeat in 11 Tests.
India had come within 139 runs of a record win with six wickets in hand when the second new ball was taken. What transpired in the next 16.3 overs was less of cricket and more of a boxing match, with both teams throwing punches and counter-punches to knock each other out.
New Zealand jabbed first. Trent Boult trapped Ajinkya Rahane lbw with the first delivery he bowled with the new ball and Tim Southee lured Rohit Sharma with a perfect outswinger in his first. Rahane had a reason to be peeved with the decision – there was a thick inside edge involved – but within the space of seven balls, New Zealand had control of the match back after a long hard toil. However, India were not going down without a fight.
Jadeja had not done much wrong in the Test and he continued in the same vein with the bat. The first ball he faced was punched down the ground with a shot that oozed class. He even held the pose for a considerable time, appreciating the shot. But that was the only classical shot he played before shifting into Twenty20 mode.
Jadeja drove a length delivery from Southee over mid-on for his second boundary, then came the upper-cut in the same over for his third. In Southee’s next over, he charged down the pitch and flat-batted a length ball down the ground. The umpire was lucky that the ball flew past his left. He then launched Boult over long off for another six.
MS Dhoni was playing shots of his own. He smashed four boundaries off Boult and the partnership between the two bulged to 54 in 34 balls, bringing the target down to 83. From what seemed like a boxer throwing blind jabs, upper cuts, hooks and crosses at an opponent while going down, India were managing to do some serious damage.
Jadeja’s brief stay ended the way it had lasted as he failed to clear mid-on. In response, Dhoni shunned his aggression. Zaheer Khan, though, threw the bat whenever the bowlers allowed him to free his arms and hit a six and a four in the point region.
Wagner, in his first dig with the new ball, made Zaheer hop with a short of length delivery that the batsman could only edge to first slip. An over later, Dhoni chopped a slower bouncer from the same bowler on to the stumps, effectively ending the match. Boult just provided the final push that brought India crashing down.
Summarized scores: New Zealand 503 (McCullum 224, Williamson 113, Ishant 6-134) and 105 (Ishant 3-28) beat India 202 (Rohit 72, Wagner 4-64) and 366 (Dhawan 115, Wagner 4-62, Southee 3-81) by 40 runs