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It was indeed a historic day for Indian cricket. India's spin twins - Ravichandran Ashwin (6-54) and Pragyan Ojha (3-48) ruled the roost at Hyderabad to set up a massive innings victory for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his merry men just three hours after the Indian Under 19 team lifted the World Cup in Australia. The Tamil Nadu lad's wile and guile proved to be too hot for the spineless New Zealanders on a decaying track. Ashwin boasting of enviable match figures of 12/85 was named the Man of the Match. Brendon McCullum(42) and Kane Williamson(52) adhering to the good old Test match virtues of caution and circumspection survived the entire morning session after a delayed start. However, the familiar subcontinental scenario played out after lunch as the visiting Kiwis tamely surrendered to spin and fell like nine pins. The New Zealanders, following on, were wiped out for a horrid 164 with a day to spare. The resolute 72 run partnership between McCullum and Williamson would have been the only consolation for the Kiwis on what was otherwise a rather forgettable day.
After what seemed to be an eternity, play finally got underway at 11am, two hours later than scheduled, much to the delight of the reasonable Sunday crowd. India's spin twins, Ravi Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha plunged into action straightaway, teasing the overnight pair of Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson with a combination of extravagant turn and alarming bounce. The packed close in cordon did not make batting easy either.
To their credit though, McCullum and Williamson exhibited enormous patience and determination to see off the treacherous first half hour. In stark contrast to his first gig, McCullum restrained himself from dabbing hard at the ball; his technique was nearly as tight as Cheteshwar Pujara's. 'The New Zealand grit' that Jeetan Patel talked about at the press conference was on view. In between the periods of defence, both batsmen despatched the bad balls to the fence.
The old pro, Zaheer Khan bustled in with purpose but that crucial break-through to prise the door ajar did not materialize. The Kiwis headed to lunch at 92-1, trailing the hosts by 187 runs.
Energized after lunch, India engineered a double strike to put themselves in pole position. McCullum was the first to depart, falling prey to a poor lbw decision after a workman-like 42.Â·Replays from every possible angle suggested that umpire Steve Davis had completely missed the big inside edge. Whilst Umesh Yadav rejoiced, a visibly gutted McCullum tossed the bat from one hand to another as he walked back to the dressing room.
A couple of overs later, Ashwin got rid of Captain Ross Taylor(7) thanks to an absolute peach of a delivery that ripped off the surface and clipped the off-stump. A 'no-shot offering Taylor' was left flummoxed and flabbergasted. It was the kind of a ball that would have done Erapalli Prasanna proud. The way the Chennai tweaker harnessed his angles and varied his trajectory was simply exceptional.
Then, Williamson(54) linked up for a 33 run stand with Daniel Flynn before he was undone by Ojha.Â·Familiar scenes of a Kiwi collapse loomed large as Flynn (11) followed suit,Â·succumbing to a well-flighted ball off Ashwin that rapped him on the pads in front of middle and off. Moments later, Sehwag plucked out a stunning low catch at first slip to dismiss first innings savior James Frankin (5), Ashwin the benefactor yet again.
New Zealand, bereft of answers against spin looked more and more like fish out of water. The guests, going into the tea break were staring at anÂ·embarrassingÂ·innings defeat at 146-6.
Doug Bracewell (1) too did not last long, getting out to the local boy Ojha in the very first over after tea. Kruger van Wyk, hit back to back boundaries off Ojha before he became Ashwin's 10th victim of the match. His reverse sweep against the carrom ball failing miserably. The Indian spinners cleaned up the tail in no time to fashion a mammoth innings victory for the hosts.
The Indians, ushering in the jam-packed home season will a thunderous bang will set their sights to maintain the intensity and pocket the series 2-0 when they cross swords with the Kiwis in the 2nd and final Test starting on August 31 at Bangalore. Cheteshwar Pujara's rock-solid maiden ton, Ravi Ashwin's masterful spin bowling, Ojha's supporting act will stand the team in good stead. Anything less than a 2-0 win would be unacceptable to the Indian fans. The ragged Kiwis, meanwhile, will strive hard to overcome the mental blockade when facing spin and come back hard in the final Test to ignite hopes of drawing the series.
India: G Gambhir, V Sehwag, C Pujara, S Tendulkar, V Kohli, S Raina, MS Dhoni (c & wk), R Ashwin, Z Khan, P Ojha, U Yadav
New Zealand: MJ Guptill, BB McCullum, DR Flynn, LRPL Taylor (c), KS Williamson, JEC Franklin, CFK van Wyk (wk), DAJ Bracewell, JS Patel, CS Martin, TA Boult
India 1st Innings 438 all out (134.3 overs, 3.25rpo)
MS Dhoni 73 (147) J Patel 4-100
C Pujara 159 (306) T Boult 3-93
New Zealand 1st Innings 159 all out (61.3 overs, 2.59rpo)
K Williamson 32 (92) R Ashwin 6-31
J Franklin 43* (122) P Ojha 3-44
New Zealand 2nd innings: 164 all out (79.5, 2.05 rpo)
K Williamson 52(163) R Ashwin 6-54
B McCullum 42(130) P Ojha 3-48
India won by an innings and 115 runs, with a day to spare
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