India completed a series whitewash against New Zealand in the three-match series as R Ashwin once again ran through the visitors batting line-up. Chasing a target of 475 runs, New Zealand could never get started as Ashwin rocked them after Tea on Day 4. He picked up 21st five-wicket haul of his Test career and put India on top. He finished wicket seven wickets for 59 runs, his career best figures. He finished with 13 wickets for 140 runs in the match, also his career best. Earlier in the day, Cheteshwar Pujara scored a century to help India post a big total. Alongwith, Gautam Gambhir, who scored a quickfire fifty, Pujara took India’s lead past 400. Gambhir was dismissed for 50 while Puajra remained unbeaten for 101. India will receive the ICC Test Championship mace at the presentation in Indore, officially announcing their rise to the top of the Test rankings.
R Ashwin is also the man-of-the-series for his 27 wickets in the series. This is his seventh man-of-the-series award
R Ashwin is the man-of the match for his career best figures of 13 wickets for 140 runs
INDIA WIN BY 321 RUNS!
On the second last ball of the day, Ashwin has Boult caught and bowled! India complete the series sweep. Ashwin finishes with career best 7 for 59.
Career best in the match as well – 13 wickets for 140 runs
Last over of the day coming up. R Ashwin to bowl to Mitchell Santner. New Zealand are 153 for the loss of nine wickets
Another over goes by! Ashwin gives only one run. Two overs remaining in the day. Will it go to the fifth day? Jadeja to bowl to Watling
Look who is watching Ashwin
Ok. Better your best now.
— Prithi Ashwin (@prithinarayanan) October 11, 2016
Four overs remaining on the day as Trent Boult and BJ Watling continue to defy Indian spinners. New Zealand are 143/9. Umesh Yadav to bowl to Watling now
Umesh Yadav back in the attack after R Ashwin gives only one run in his over. BJ Watling will be on strike. How long can he resist India bowlers with Trent Boult
Four runs from the Umesh Yadav and New Zealand move onto 142/9. R Ashwin will resume bowling from the other end. BJ Watling on strike
WICKET! Matt Henry (0) c Mohammed Shami b R Ashwin
Too easy for Ashwin as he takes his 12 wicket of the match. Lobs it up to Henry who goes for the big shot but sends it to mid-off. India one wicket away now
WICKET! Jeetan Patel (0) b R Ashwin
Ashwin has a five-wicket haul in each innings. Fourth bowled in this innings. Jeetan Patel gets a tossed up delivery, misses and bowled
WICKET! Mitchell Santner (14) b R Ashwin
Straight from Ashwin! Santner doesn’t want to believe it is Ashwin again. A straighter that takes the inside edge of the bat, onto his pads, heads towards stumps and gets deflected from back leg before crashing into the stumps
Mitchell Santner steps out against Ashwin, who has incidentally bowled a full-toss. Over mid-wicket for big six
New Zealand are 134/6 with Watling on strike to Jadeja in next over
Another closer LBW shout from Mohammed Shami! He is bring the ball into left-hander Mitchell Santner from around the wicket. But the ball was going down. A couple of edges going for four through the slip cordon
Mohammed Shami from one end and Ravindra Jadeja from the other end. India trying to finish it today. They are four wickets away. They still need 358 runs to win
18 overs remain today. New Zealand have just 4 wickets in hand. Can they survive? BJ Watling and Mitchell Santner out in the middle
WICKET! Martin Guptill (29) lbw Ravindra Jadeja
That arm ball again! Jadeja fires in a ball that goes with a arm. Guptill is late to play that. Hit on the pads at middle and leg. Would have gone on to hit leg. New Zealand 6 down
WICKET! Jimmy Neesham c Virat Kohli b Ravindra Jadeja
Jadeja joins the act. Brilliant set up to get the left-hander. Leg slip, short leg and Kohli at short mid-wicket. Neesham picks Kohli and has to go
WICKET! Luke Ronchi (15) b R Ashwin
Wicket number three for Ashwin. Ronchi can says he is unlucky as the ball pitched in the rough and stayed low. Slips under Ronchi’s bat to rattle the stumps
100 up for New Zealand in the 22nd over. They have not let the run-rate go down but the loss of three wickets will hurt them. Luke Ronchi and Martin Guptill at the crease for them
WICKET! Ross Taylor (32) b R Ashwin
Brilliant bowling from Ashwin. Pitches it right up there and Taylor sweeps. Too full to sweep and misses it completely. Spins back to rattle the stumps. New Zealand three down for 80
Ross Taylor has added 28 runs in quick time while Martin Guptill still taking his time to settle. NZ 76/2
Ross Taylor has decided not allow Ashwin to dominate him as he hits the spinner for couple of fours and a six. Also, Fifty up for New Zealand.
Jadeja with an eventful over to Martin Guptill. Beats the outside edge twice. Gets it once and it goes between keeper and slip for four. New Zealand are 46/2 after 12 overs
WICKET! Kane Williamson (27) lbw R Ashwin
Once again, Ashwin picks a wicket after the break and it is the big wicket of Williamson. Goes across too much and misses a turning ball from Ashwin. Hit on the middle stump and would have crashed into the leg-stump. Williamson can’t believe it
Tea on Day 4. New Zealand have reached 38 for the loss of one wicket after nine overs in their chase of 475 runs. Umesh Yadav is the wicket taker for India. Kane Williamson is unbeaten at 23 and Guptill is unbeaten at 9
R Ashwin into the attack after the eighth over. New Zealand are 29/1 with Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson at the crease. Will he strike before Tea?
Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami beat the outside edge of New Zealand batsmen a few times but no damage done after the first wicket. New Zealand are 16/1 after the first six overs
WICKET! Tom Latham (6) lbw b Umesh Yadav!
What a start for India. Umesh with a brilliant ball that would have crashed into the stumps. Pitched up and it is fast. Latham tries to bring his bat in front but it late. Easy decision. “Indiaaaa, India” chants the 19, 000 people in Indore
Out come the New Zealand openers as they chase 475 runs. 137 overs remaining in the hour and a half sessions they have. Can New Zealand frustrate India? Forget target and the time left, it a good opportunity to make some important runs for the team
Cheteshwar Pujara played a fabulous innings here. India were looking for declaration and he made his century in 147 balls. Shifts gears when the team asked and the strike rate in more than 68
INDIA DECLARE AT 216/3. SET NEW ZEALAND A TARGET OF 475 RUNS
Virat Kohli calls his boys back to the pavillion. New Zealand need 475 runs to avoid a whitewash in this series. 45 minutes before Tea in Indore
HUNDRED FOR CHETESHWAR PUJARA
After a long wait and numerous scores of 50-plus, Cheteshwar Pujara has finally got his eighth Test century. Thanks the skies and acknowledges the dressing room and the crowd. A dab down the fine-leg to get a four and complete the century
India past 200 now. Rahane with some good looking shots
India’s lead past 450 as well. Good, brisk batting from batsmen
Pujara into 90s. Looking for his first hundred in along time
Cheteshwar Pujara is now 90*, his highest score of the series as he goes past 87 in Kolkata. India lead by 455 runs now. Waiting for Pujara hundred before declaration
Terrific boundary from Rahane. Plays it very, very late. Picks it from keeper’s gloves and a deft touch to send it to third-man boundary. India reach 185/3, extend lead to 443 runs
Cheteshwar Pujara going strong. He has used the late cut shot and the sweep to a great effect today against the New Zealand spinners. Into the 70s now
WICKET! Virat Kohli (17) lbw b Jeetan Patel.
India lose their third wicket as Virat Kohli is trapped in front by Jeetan Patel. Kohli tries to sweep off a straight ball but misses it. Not big turn on it. Umpire thinks it is good to be out
India lead is past 400 now. A cut from Virat Kohli through point and the ball races towards the fence. Boult tries to cut it but his leg was touching the ropes when he pushed the ball back
Players back on the field after Lunch break! India resume at 127/2, leading New Zealand by 385 runs. Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli at the crease for India
Virat Kohli to receive the ICC mace on behalf of team for achieving the number one ranking in Tests. Sunil Gavaskar to present it
LUNCH ON DAY 4! India lose two wickets in the session but are 127/2, extending the lead to 385 runs. They scored at 3.74 runs per overs in this session. How long will they bat in second? Back after 40 minutes
FIFTY! Now Cheteshwar Pujara has a half-century. Fourth of this series, 11th in Tests. Couple of runs to fine-leg. Dressing room applauds
Comebacks are always tough…tougher than making your debut. Becomes toughest if you've failed in the 1st innings. Well played, Gambhir 😊👍👏👏
— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) October 11, 2016
Indore crowd breaks into a loud cheer as India captain Virat kohli comes out to bat. He scored a double century in the first innings. 15 minutes to go for Lunch
WICKET! Gautam Gambhir (50) c Martin Guptill b Jeetan Patel!
Gambhir is gone after his half-century. Patel gives him a straight ball and he tries to loft it over in-field but ends up hitting it straight to Guptill at short mid-off
FIFTY! Gautam Gambhir has a fifty on his comeback to the Indian team after 2 years
What feeling for Gambhir. He thanks the skies. Pushes it to mid-off and takes a quick single. Guptill tries the reverse flick throw again but it hits the stumps and is deflected. Gambhir gets an overthrow and his fifty
100 up for India after 27 overs in second innings. Some brisk scoring has taken the lead up to 358 runs. Gambhir in 40s, Pujara in 30s
A lot of diving going around! Fielders diving to stop singles, batsmen diving to complete the quick singles. Spin into the attack from one end from New Zealand
A change in the intent from Indian batsmen after drinks (20 overs). Gambhir and Pujara scoring at quick rates with at least a boundary every over. Both closing in on a half century
Gambhir has bettered the run-rate. Some good looking shots on either side of the wicket. He is also pushing Pujara to run quick singles. India looking to quick runs now
Couple of close run-out calls for both Pujara and Gambhir. New Zealand keeping things tight in Indore. After 20 overs, India are 58/1 with an overall lead of 316 runs
DROPPED! Gautam Gambhir survives a caught behind. That will be hurting New Zealand. Santner bowls a straight ball. Gambhir, playing for spin on backfoot, closes the face of the bat and it takes the back edge of the bat. Keeper Watling also moves his gloves in the line of the ball but the edge deflects the ball and hits his gloves
Gautam Gambhir will resume his innings from six runs. He had to retire after his shoulder injury last evening
WICKET! Murali Vijay run-out Martin Guptill 19! Guptill with a stunning reverse flick throw to the keeper to run-out Vijay. Santner with a good length ball, drawing Vijay forward. He pushes at it and it goes to the cover fielder. Vijay is halfway down but Pujara was telling him no. Guptill, running to his left, picks it up with right hand and throws a flick. Vijay lazy. No dive and is inches short
Big shout! Murali Vijay comes forward for a defensive shot but the bat came a tad late. New Zealand appeal but umpire says no. Inside edge saves him there
WHAT WAS THAT?! Murali Vijay brings out a hoick out of the blue! Puts a ball from outside off to over mid-wicket. Neesham is at the boundary but is getting closer to the ropes as tries to catch it. He gets two hands but he thought he is going over the ropes so pushes is back on the field
After four overs on Day 4, India are 26/0. Two maidens in that. Pujara and Vijay taking things steadily at the moment. India’s overall lead is 284 runs
New Zealand players making their way to the field. Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay also coming out. India resume at 18/0 and an overall lead of 276 runs
What has gone wrong for New Zealand in this match? Not the pitch for sure. You can watch what Sahil Malhotra and Vinay Siwach think
What has gone wrong for India in this series? Obviously there is the case of Indian openers getting injured. But then there in the Ajinkya jinx and a lot more as Devendra Pandey tells us here
“It’s not that serious but yes it a bit bruised. There is a lot of pain in the shoulder. We have to see how it goes in the warm-ups and then decide if he can bat”
– Kumble on Gautam Gambhir’s injury
“We have New Zealand batting last now on a deteriorating surface which will be working in our favour”
– Kumble on not asking NZ to follow-on
“It’s not an easy wicket. You need to be patient and we knew one wicket and the pressure will be on New Zealand. Ashwin bowled well after Lunch”
– India coach Anil Kumble
Not much turn for the spinners on the complete surface but if they pitch it in the rough, we can expect turn and bounce. It is still a good batting surface. New Zealand will look to stop the run-flow for India and keep them batting for long
YOU CAN’T blame the New Zealand batsmen if they’re feeling a tad gutted at the end of the third’s play. Maybe, even hard done by. The last few weeks have taught them that facing R Ashwin is like walking a tight rope with their feet tied together. Even one slip or error can prove fatal. But what do you do if he starts dismissing you—or your partner in this case—without really having to depend on his bowling just by using his hand or a sliver of it?
Luke Ronchi’s straight drive was perfectly timed, only that it was a bit too straight. The result: it caught the ring-finger of Ashwin’s right hand in the follow through and crashed into the stumps to catch Martin Guptill short of his crease at the non-striker’s end. This, after Guptill had spent more than two hours at the crease and finally looked to have come to terms with his role as a Test opener, scoring a fluent 72.
Later in the day, when Matt Henry’s uppish drive presented Ashwin with a low return-catch, he let it slip but the ball ricocheted on to the stumps before Jeetan Patel could even ground his bat. It’s not like he didn’t continue to be an inscrutable scourge with his bowling, which has now almost become inevitable. Ashwin snared yet another five-wicket haul—No.20 of his career—to finish with 6/81 leaving the visitors on the ropes facing a deficit of 276 runs with India understandably deciding against enforcing the follow-on. It was a day when the Kiwis lost to Ashwin both by pinfall and submission.
To say the 30-year-old off-spinner is in the midst of a dream run would be an understatement. Some of his numbers prove that few, if any, spinner has enjoyed as good a spell of wicket-taking as he has over the last 12 months. And you could be mistaken in thinking that all Ashwin has to do these days, especially on pitches in India, is to turn up and roll his arm over. That wicket-taking is just a formality. But where he’s been sensational in this period is that he’s made it look like a formality. For, it’s certainly not the case.
Expensive first spells
Ashwin has not always started well with the ball in this series. He’s regularly been scored off in his initial overs—going at over four-an-over in pretty much every opening spell. It’s not like he’s been expensive as a result of trying to buy wickets, but like in his own confession on Monday, he’s not started in “fine rhythm”. He’s also had to deal with a corn on his spinning finger on occasions.
At Kanpur, in the first innings, he was made to wait for 16.5 overs before he took his first wicket. Here in Indore, he didn’t quite look like himself in the early going. There were short balls and half-volleys, which Guptill and Tom Latham made the most of. Not many balls came close to beating the bat and Ashwin simply couldn’t put together a cluster of deliveries on a length that would put the Kiwi openers at unease.
But like he’s shown over the last 15 months, you can never be at ease when Ashwin has the ball in hand. As a batsman, you can often formulate a plan based on studying and researching the general plans of a spinner and get the better of him. Even the greatest in the business have been thwarted by a well-prepared batsman. What stands out with Ashwin is that he’s not solely dependent on a solitary strategy to entrap the batsmen. He’s forever adjusting his plans based on yours. Often he’s not just moving his own pieces on the chessboard but also manipulating the batsman to move his according to his whims.
Like in the first Test. Once he realised that Latham was keeping him at bay by placing his front-foot straight down the line of the pitch rather than it pointing towards cover, he immediately adjusted the line to closer to the stumps and trapped the left-hander lbw in both innings. Here, he stuck to a similar line but was bowling a fuller length to make sure that the batsman attempts the drive on the slow pitch. This one landed slightly short of Latham’s bat, before it gripped, spun sharply and had him caught and bowled off a leading edge.
At Kolkata, Ashwin had consumed his man by altering his line of attack to slightly wide outside the off-stump after the Kiwi had changed his footwork from the first Test and survived for a long period.
In walked Kane Williamson. Ashwin would later reveal to have picked up clues about the Kiwi captain from their previous meeting in Tests four years ago. “He has a tendency to lunge forward outside his off-stump,” is how he described it. And from the moment Williamson has walked in to bat this series, Ashwin has operated without anyone manning the cover region and constantly bowled length and at times even short of length deliveries outside the off-stump, coaxing the right-hander to hit against the turn. It succeeded in Kanpur.
Williamson, being the class batsman he is, has found his own method of contending with Ashwin’s plan by looking to play off the back-foot so that he’s not leaving any gap between his bat and pad. He’d been defeated on both occasions in the first Test while employing this very gameplan. On this occasion he felt to an ordinary shot. It was the drift on the ball that flummoxed him first and convinced him to attempt a cut. But the ball was too close to him and as it spun back sharply, all he got on the ball was an inside-edge that trickled on to the stumps. It wasn’t the first time that Ashwin had outdone a batsman of the highest quality of late. He had sort of spoiled Kumar Sangakkara’s farewell party by dismissing him in his final four innings. He did so by beating the Sri Lankan stalwart at his own game, letting him play his trademark cover-drive to off-breaks outside the off-stump with generous flight and deception and getting him caught at slip. In the end Sangakkara had to admit, “I think I just couldn’t see the ball Ashwin bowled to me four times in a row.”
Later that year, he got rid of AB de Villiers in Nagpur, a scalp he has often called his most satisfying. With the South African trying to stave off an lbw risk by moving his feet outside the leg-stump, Ashwin used a carom ball that pitched on middle and took out off-stump.
Back in Indore, Ross Taylor looked all at sea once more against Ashwin. His constant ploy against the off-spinner has been to play inside the line of the ball and make sure the ball doesn’t turn past to hit his pads. In Kolkata he was squared up and trapped lbw. Here, he ended up leaving his bat hanging outside his off-stump to a regulation off-break and edged to slip. Ronchi, who has so far shown great footwork against Ashwin, too perished the same way.
Though Jimmy Neesham and the lower-order did wag in impressively, Ashwin returned to mop them up to complete his five-wicket haul. And it looks likely that he’s only getting warmed up in this Test with the second innings still to come. Still, somehow Ashwin’s achievements always seem to carry an asterisk for some. “Kumble and my Test wicket count would have been something else if we had got wickets like we have been playing on in the last four years,” is what Harbhajan Singh had tweeted a day earlier.
But what Ashwin seems to be proving on a regular basis is that his success is based as much on what he brings to the pitch as it is on what the pitch has to offer. And that he has more ways than one to get rid of a batsman. Just ask the Kiwis.