Wagner Bowls New Zealand To Victory
New Zealand 503 & 105 (I Sharma 3-28) beat
India 202 & 366 (Dhawan 115) by 40 runs
First Test, Auckland
Neil Wagner bowled New Zealand to a 40-run victory versus India on day four of the first Test at Auckland, taking four for 62 to dismiss India for 366 in their second innings.
The left-armer thwarted Shikhar Dhawan’s second Test hundred to help his side come out on top in an intense run chase, as India were bowled out for 366 in their second innings. The Black Caps thus took a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series, with the second match starting in Wellington on 14th February.
Apart from Wagner, Tim Southee (3-81) and Trent Boult (3-86) inflicted most damage, while Corey Anderson (0-22) and Sodhi (0-78) weren’t sharp enough. Kane Williamson (0-18) did bowl a short spell just before lunch.
For India, Dhawan scored 115 runs, adding 126 runs with Virat Kohli (67) for the third wicket, but no other batsman crossed the 40-run mark in a disappointing end to the Test for the visitors who are without a single win on the tour so far.
New Zealand made a cracking start to the post-tea session with Rohit Sharma (19) gone first ball, falling to a beautiful out-swinger from Southee. It was then left to skipper MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja to salvage something out of the situation as 137 runs were still remaining for victory. Faced with the new ball, the duo went on a counter-attack.
After Rohit’s dismissal, the first five overs cost 45 runs as the two batsmen smacked quite a few boundaries. In all they added 54 runs in just 5.4 overs, with Jadeja playing the more active partner. He hit 26 runs, off only 21 balls, with four fours and one six as the 50-run partnership came in only 33 balls.
The target too came down to 83 runs when he was dismissed, caught at mid-on off Boult.
Then, Zaheer Khan soaked up a lot of pressure for 32 balls and scored 17 runs (one four, one six) as Dhoni farmed the strike. Together they added 25 crucial runs, as the chase got more intense. It was left to Wagner to get another breakthrough as he had Zaheer caught at slip.
At eight down, it was only up to Dhoni to get his side across the finish line and he perished in this attempt, going after a short and wide one, again from Wagner, and played it onto his stumps. He was out for 39 runs, having faced 41 balls, and hit six fours.
Indeed it was the end for India, as Boult wrapped up the Indian innings with Ishant Sharma’s (4) wicket.Mohammad Shami (0*) was the unbeaten batsman.
Earlier, Wagner had struck twice in the post-lunch session to leave the match in the balance, as India reached 270 for five at tea. This was after Shikhar Dhawan (115 runs, 211 balls, 12 fours, one six) reached his second Test century.
Dhawan and Kohli (67 runs, 102 balls, 12 fours) had broken the shackles in the morning session and they looked to further increase their 84-run partnership as the visitors hunted for a turnaround win.
They began in the same fashion as before lunch, scoring freely while being watchful at times, and brought up their 100-run partnership in the 59th over of the innings as also the 200-mark for the chase.
The left-handed opener then reached his second Test hundred, off 169 balls, with 11 fours and one six. It was the first hundred by an Indian opener in the fourth innings of an overseas Test since Sunil Gavaskar’s 221 runs versus England at the Oval in 1979.
India would have liked his partner to get a hundred as well but Kohli was out against the run of play in the 61st over. He tried to pull a short and very wide delivery from Wagner, and only ended up getting a fine edge, collected low by keeper BJ Watling.
The run scoring slowed down as new batsman Rohit Sharma took his time and Dhawan too got cautious. 26 runs later then, it became a double blow from Watling as he came around the wicket to the opener in the 75th over, and unleashed a short ball directed across his body. Dhawan couldn’t get out of its way and gloved it to the keeper, knocking India’s momentum.
It got worse as New Zealand struck with the second new ball taken immediately as it became due. Boult got the ball to swing back but it had a thick inside edge which umpire Steve Davis did not notice and gave Ajinkya Rahane (18) out LBW, leaving India breathless again.
In the morning session, Dhawan and Kohli had added 84 runs to take lunch at 180 for two. India started the day still in need of 320 runs, with Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara (23) looking to provide them a solid start.
In the very first over of the day, the former quickly moved on his half-century, getting the milestone ticked off early, facing 75 balls and hitting five fours in doing so. It was his first half-century in five Test matches, since his maiden Test hundred versus Australia (at Mohali) nearly a year ago.
Even so, the start was shaky, with Dhawan surviving a couple of LBW shouts, even if they seemed to be sailing over the stumps. The Black Caps were bowling a nagging line and length, especially Southee. And he was soon rewarded for it. In the fifth over of the morning, 30th overall of the innings, he bowled a near-perfect delivery to Pujara who could do nothing but play at it and edged it the keeper.
He was out for 23 runs (71 balls, one fours, one six), leaving a mountain to be climbed for the rest of the batsmen.
Virat Kohli came out to bat and then patiently saw off Southee’s super spell of 6-3-4-1. At the other end, Dhawan too continued to bat cautiously as the 100-run mark came for the chase in the 32nd over. They tempered their batting according to the situation, mixing aggression with defence.
The number four batsman, especially, played with great care and got his eye in. He opened up only when leg-spinner Ish Sodhi came on to bowl, taking 18 runs off his first two overs. They brought up their 50-run partnership off 111 balls, as the New Zealand bowlers toiled hard under the sun, but without success.
He brought up his ninth Test fifty just before lunch, off 80 balls, hitting ten fours.
On day one, India had won the toss and reduced New Zealand to 30 for three, before a 221-run fourth-wicket stand between McCullum and Kane Williamson (113) put them back in control of proceedings.
On day two, McCullum (224) had gone on to complete his second Test double-hundred, after which India were reduced to 10 for three before bad light halted play, two hours later, with the score at 130 for four.
On day three, 17 wickets fell, with India bowled out for 202 and then knocking New Zealand over for just 105 runs, setting up their chase.
© Cricket World 2014