Kolkata: India beat New Zealand by a comprehensive 178 runs to take an unassailable 2-0 lead and extend unbeaten home run.
The Eden gardens has seen it all including some of the most famous Indian victories and today was witness to yet another clinical Indian performance that led to massive win by 178 runs inside just 4 days of the match. The second test match between India and New Zealand bore uncanny resemblance to the first match with identically similar scorecard throughout the completed 4 innings. The only difference was the increased role and results of the fast bowlers from both the teams.
New Zealand was set a target of 376 runs to win on a tricky and uncertain 4th day Eden Garden pitch and as expected by most, they succumbed to it getting all out for a paltry 197. The top order batted with much needed confidence but after the fall of the first two wickets, it was a sorry tale to tell.
Earlier, India had won yet another toss and decided to bat first on pitch that looked good for seam bowling initially. India had brought in Bhuvneshwar Kumar in place Umesh Yadav, looking at the moisture in the pitch and KL Rahul sat out due to Injury to make way for Shikhar Dhawan. Murli Vijay, fresh from his twin half centuries in the previous match started with Dhawan, who again failed to impress and walked back early for just 1 run. Vijay too could not score much as he was out caught behind for just 9 runs. The pitch was helping the seamers and New Zealand bowlers made full use of it with a good mix of short pitched and full swinging deliveries specially Henry. He troubled all the Indian batsmen and finally had 3 wickets to his name. Boult from the other end dismissed Kohli to set India back at 46 for 3. It was the in form Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, who guided India back to safe waters with a 147 run partnership. Quick wickets of Pujara, Rahane and Rohit had brought New Zealand right back in the game but useful contributions from the lower order that included a fighting half century from Wridhiman Saha, helped India het past 300 to finish the innings at 316.
New Zealand started their innings poorly again as Mohd. Shami stroke early with the wicket of Tom Latham, but it was Bhuvneshwar Kumar who stole the show with some exceptional display of swing bowling to rattle the New Zealand lineup. None of the Kiwi batsmen were able to contribute much and fell at regular intervals to be all out for just 204 runs, giving India a decisive 112 run lead. Bhuvneshwar picked up 5 wickets, while Shami got 3. Spinners did not have to do much with both Ashwin and Jadeja sharing a wicket each.
The wicket was crumbling and the ball had started to do uncertain things. It stayed low at times while jumped from the same spot on other occasions. The ball was gripping, turning and stopping at times. The massive first wicket lead was going to be blessing for the Indian team as went out to bat for the second time. Vijay, Dhawan, Pujara and Rahane all went back early to leave India tottering at 43 for 4, with a total lead of 155 runs. New Zealand bowlers were looking ominous and had the target of dismissing India for the least possible score, to be able to have any chance of chasing and winning the match. Unfortunately, they ran into a counter attacking Virat Kohli who scored briskly at one end while Rohit Sharma was settling down at the other. Kohli got out just when he looked set for a big one as he scored 45 runs. Ashwin was dismissed in quick succession with Kohli as India slumped again to 106 for 6. Rohit was well set and Wridhiman Saha again came in handy as they put together a century partnership to put the Kiwis effectively out of the match. The pitch stayed true to its promise of uncertainty as no basmen was set enough to look comfortable on it. Rohit was dismissed for a well made 82 while Saha batted with the tail to notch up his second fifty of the match. India was all out for 263 leaving New Zealand a target of 376 to win the match on a mine field of a pitch with more than 5 sessions left in the game. Boult and Henry got 3 wickets each as even in the second innings, it was the faster bowlers who made an impact.
New Zealand openers Martin Guptill and Tom Latham started with great composure and added their first half century opening partnership of the series. To be fair, the way the top three batsmen from the New Zealand lineup were batting, the pitch looked pretty decent to bat except some instances of ball beating the bat. New Zealand lost their 2nd wicket at 104 and then procession started. No batsmen could stay long enough on the wicket to get some runs or buy more time as the Kiwis collapsed for 197 runs. Shami, Ashwin and Jadeja shared the honours with 3 wickets each.
It was pretty much the same story as the last match with no batsman reaching the triple figure mark yet again while a few half centuries were notched up. It has more to do with the type of wickets that the matches have been played on where no batsmen has his eye in. The bowlers have so much loaded in favour of them that they fancy getting even the set batsmen out easily.
To sum up, India has taken an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the 3 match series to take the series and have yet again reached the pinnacle position in the ICC test rankings. India displace arch rivals Pakistan to sit pretty as the No. 1 test team of the world.