Ruthless India demolish New Zealand to win series

India rode on some inspired spin bowling to thrash New Zealand by an innings and 198 runs in the third and final Test on Tuesday and claim the series 1-0.

Spinners Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha and Suresh Raina shared seven wickets before paceman Ishant Sharma wiped off the tail to bowl out New Zealand for 175 early into the second session on the fourth day of the match.

New Zealand started the day needing 349 runs to avoid an innings defeat after conceding a huge 373-run lead to India who made 566-8 in their first innings, built around a 191-run knock by Rahul Dravid.

The visitors, weighed down by the enormity of the task at hand, crumbled without much resistance to hand top-ranked India one of their biggest Test wins in recent times.

India owed their success as much to the pacemen who struck early blows on the first day of the match to bowl out New Zealand for 193 and set the platform for victory.

New Zealand, placed at number eight in Test rankings, suffered their second batting collpase in the match after resuming the day on 24-1.

Ojha snatches wickets
Ojha (2-67) picked off his first victim in the second over of the morning, trapping overnight batsman Brendon McCullum (25) leg before wicket with a ball that pitched on the middle stump.

McCullum, who came to open the second innings after batting at number eight in the first due to back spasms, finished as the highest run-getter for New Zealand with a tally of 370 from the three Tests.

Ojha then claimed Martin Guptill for a golden duck in his next over to leave New Zealand tottering at 38-3.

The bowler, however, missed out on a third wicket after his appeal for a leg before wicket off Ross Taylor was turned down by umpire Simon Taufel. TV replays showed the ball would have hit the middle stump.

Harbhajan (3-56) joined in the action soon, removing struggling wicket-keeper batsman Gareth Hopkins (eight) who tried to drive the ball away but ended up being caught brilliantly by a diving Gautam Gambhir at short leg.

Sharma takes charge
Taylor (29) was caught by substitute Cheteshwar Pujara at the same position off Harbhajan although replays showed the ball had bounced off his pads.

Rookie middle-order batsman Kane Williamson (eight) was bowled by Sharma (3-15), while part-timer Raina had key batsman Jesse Ryder caught at mid-off for 22.

Ryder, battling a calf injury, faced 53 balls and hit one boundary during his nearly three-hour stay at the crease.

Raina’s off-spin fetched him his second wicket, that of Kiwi captain Daniel Vettori, who was hit on the knee roll in front of the middle stump.

Sharma returned in the post-lunch session to pick up two wickets in two balls and put an end to New Zealand’s misery. — Sapa-AFP

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Abhaya Srivastava
Abhaya Srivastava is Agence France Presses South Asia special correspondent.

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