NAGPUR: Spinners Harbhajan Singh andPragyan Ojha wreaked havoc on a turning track as India recorded one of theirmost convincing Test wins in recent times by thrashing New Zealand by an inningsand 198 runs in third and final Test to clinch the three-match series 1-0 onTuesday.
The spinduo never looked threatening during the entire series but proved to be analtogether different proposition with turn and bounce that was onoffer.
Both Harbhajan (3/56) and Ojha (2/67) got appreciable turn andbounce as the Black Caps batsmen literally struggled to stay put on a track thatwas suddenly looking difficult to bat on. There was sharp turn on offer and someof the balls were also keeping low.
If Harbhajan and Ojha decimatedthe top-order, Ishant Sharma (3/15) and Suresh Raina (2/1) blasted out the lowerorder as New Zealand were all out for 175 in only 51.2overs.
Needing349 runs to clear the first innings deficit, the visitors needed to show a lotof application but not having encountered appreciable turn and bounce in theprevious matches meant that there wasn’t a lot of homework done.
Thepressure was immense and Daniel Vettori’s men surrendered meekly with the matchlasting barely three and half days.
Brendon McCullum (25), the doublecenturion of the last Test, on whom Vettori must have depended a lot went backin the 14th over as he missed a ball trying to play on the backfoot. It wouldhave hit the leg stump and Simon Taufel made no mistake in ruling the batsmanleg before.
Martin Guptill (0) who has had a woeful Test match saw adelivery from Ojha pitched on the leg stump and turn sharply towards the middlestump finding the batsman’s pads. Taufel took some time before raising hisfinger as Ojha was in with a hat-trick chance.
At 38 for three, NewZealand were looking down the barrel. Ross Taylor (29) tried to hit the spinnersmore out of desperation as the noose got tighter. Wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins -certainly not the best among the wicketkeeper batsman who are playinginternational cricket was the next man out.
Scratching around for 35balls having scored only eight, Hopkins tried to drive Harbhajan but the ballturned to find his bat and pad. Gautam Gambhir standing at forward short-legtook a brilliant one-handed reflex catch diving to his right.
WhileJesse Ryder (22) did show some stomach for a fight at one end, the other batsmendidn’t have good enough technique to play on a turning track. Harbhajan, in factmade good use of the rough patch that was created on side as some of the ballreally turned and jumped.
The feisty spinner from Jalandhar got histhird victim when Ross Taylor offered a simple bat-pad catch to substituteCheteshwar Pujara. The television replays however couldn’t confirm whether theball hit the bat or not.
With half the team back in the pavilion forless than 100, the match as a contest was as good as over in the first houritself.
Kane Williamson (8) was castled by an Ishant Sharma deliverythat kept low and moved in after pitching.
Ryder’s 53-ball vigilended when he got out trying to hoick Suresh Raina only to be holed out byIshant at mid-off. Raina, who is being groomed as a specialist part-timer asSachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag don’t bowl often these days bowled astraighter one to trap Vettori (13) plumb in front to reduce New Zealand to 124for eight.
Ishant got his second wicket when Tim Southee (31, 3×6)was bowled through the gate and wrapped it up with another incoming deliverythat breached through Chris Martin’s defence.(PTI)