NZ vs Ind 1st Test: New Zealand survive battle of nerves
On Sunday, Eden Park witnessed one of the most thrilling finishes to a Test match in the history of New Zealand cricket as the hosts sealed a 40-run win against a fighting Indian side in the 1st Test.
Shikhar Dhawan's solid 115 in the 4th innings that involved a 126-run partnership with Virat Kohli (67) and a counter-attacking Ravindra Jadeja kept the contest evenly poised. But it was the game-changing spell of Neil Wagner that swung the game in New Zealand's favour as they handed the visitors their 10th overseas loss on the trot.
Faced with a steep target of 406, Team India were determined on achieving the highest chase in New Zealand. With 6 wickets in hand and 139 runs to win, it almost looked achievable. However, the Kiwis took the second new ball and India's plans went for a toss. Both Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma fell within a space of 7 deliveries and New Zealand were back in control. Though, India still had their hopes pinned to the rescue team of Dhoni and Jadeja.
Jadeja carried his form from the one-dayers, charging against the Kiwi seamers and keeping the momentum alive. On the other hand, Dhoni's unique shot-making contributed to the duo's 50-run stand and the target now looked easier. But Jadeja's cameo soon came to an end, followed by Dhoni who sliced a slow bouncer on to the stumps. Boult delivered the final spark and India were bundled out for 366.
The adrenaline was much higher in the last couple of days, as compared to the first two days of the Test. New Zealand were put in to bat first, and they made merry off the Indian bowlers, posting 503 on the board. Kane Williamson's stupendous form continued as he smashed a splendid century (113), but it was the captain who took all the spotlight. Brendon McCullum's phenomenal double hundred (224) pushed the Indians on the back foot and there was hardly any comeback after that. The only positive was Ishant Sharma's 6-wicket haul. India's response with the bat was a lowly 202, out of which 72 runs were scored by Rohit Sharma alone.
New Zealand though, faltered in the 2nd innings and were wrapped up for 105, thanks to a commendable bowling effort from Ishant Sharma (3/28) and Mohammad Shami (3/37). But with a more than handy lead, the Kiwis were safely placed. Neil Wagner stood out with 8 wickets in the match, while Boult and Southee supported each other brilliantly, with 6 wickets each in the Test.
After an incredible performance at Auckland, New Zealand will be sky-high going into the 2nd Test at Wellington. As for India, it was a case of 'so close, yet so far'. They need to bounce back harder going forward.
New Zealand 503 (McCullum 224, Williamson 113, Ishant 6-134) and 105 (Ishant 3-28) beat India 202 (Rohit 72, Wagner 4-64) and 366 (Dhawan 115, Wagner 4-62, Southee 3-81) by 40 runs