India vs New Zealand | Ashwin and Jadeja spin India to series win and No.1 rank

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India vs New Zealand | Ashwin and Jadeja spin India to series win and No.1 rank

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Amlan Majumdar

10/03/2016

R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja ran through the Kiwis' top-order after Wriddhiman Saha helped India post a target of 376 in the 2nd Test at Kolkata. After Tom Latham's initial resistance, the spinners bowled out New Zealand for 197 and helped India take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.

Brief Scores: India 316 and 263 all out (Sharma 82, Saha 58; Boult 3/38, Henry 3/59) defeated New Zealand 204 and 197 in 81.1 overs (Latham 74, Ronchi 32; Shami 3/46, Ashwin 3/82, Jadeja 3/41)

Wriddhiman Saha continues to grow in stature

The 31-year-old is perhaps yet to convince everyone that he should be a regular fixture in the Indian Test squad. After all, the man he is replacing is none other than MS Dhoni himself. However, the diminutive wicketkeeper is slowing but surely proving himself to be an important part of the lower-middle order of the Indian batting lineup. He might not have the flamboyance of Dhoni, but he makes up for it with grit and determination.

After scoring his maiden Test century against West Indies in August, Saha has now scored two half-centuries in the second Test against New Zealand on his home ground—it was the seventh time an Indian wicketkeeper has achieved this feat, four of them were by Dhoni. Batting with the tail, Saha made sure that India's lead goes well beyond the reach of the visitors and remained unbeaten at 58. Bhuvneshwar Kumar gave him good company before he was dismissed for 23. After Bhuvi's departure, Saha opened up his arms and hit Santner for two back-to-back boundaries in the 75th over to bring up the fourth Test half-century of his career—this after he scored a vital 54 in the first innings.

Mohammed Shami could not hang around for long, though. Trent Boult wrapped up the Indian innings at 263 by dismissing Shami, who became his last victim in the second innings.

Tom Latham restores some hope for the Kiwis

Latham continued his decent run of form by scoring his third 50-plus score of the tour—the first of which came in the practice game against Mumbai. The Southpaw gave New Zealand a solid start alongside Martin Guptill, who made his highest score in his last eight innings with a knock of 24 runs. The duo made 55 runs for the first wicket before Henry Nicholls joined Latham at the crease.

The Kiwis were holding up nicely at 104/1. However, as the ball got older, Ashwin and Jadeja became difficult to handle for the visitors, especially on a pitch which is falling apart. Latham, though, kept putting the ball away to the boundary, and he brought up his half-century in the 32nd over with a gentle sweep shot. However, as it turned out, it was just the calm before the storm arrived.

Ashwin and Jadeja take out the top-order

The Indian spin twins went through the New Zealand top-order. Jadeja broke the dangerous-looking partnership between Latham and Nicholls by getting the latter caught at slip, and the rest followed soon. From 104/1, the Kiwis were suddenly down to 178/8 as the line-up crumbled under the pressure put on them. Luke Ronchi was the only one who provided some resistance in the middle-order for New Zealand.

After being out-shined by the fast bowlers in the first innings, Ashwin and Jadeja were once again back at the forefront of things. Ashwin got the all important wicket of Latham in the 43rd over with a delightfully flighted delivery, that induced a false drive from the in-form batsman, and Saha did the rest behind the stumps.

Mohammed Shami got the old ball to reverse once again in his second spell. The pacer, who had picked up 3 wickets in the first innings, picked up three more wickets in the second innings, including New Zealand's last wicket of Boult. The Kiwis were bowled out for 197 as India cruised to an unassailable 2-0 lead in the 3-match series, The Indian team are now also assured of their place at the top of the ICC Test rankings once they are updated at the end of this series.

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