India got the better of New Zealand by 178 runs in the second Test at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. The victory, which was achieved in four days, not only ensured another series win at home for the Indians, but also saw them displace arch-rivals Pakistan as the number one team in Test matches. Here’s a look at some defining moments in the game.
Pujara-Rahane stand on Day 1: India were in big trouble on the opening day, batting first. They quickly succumbed to 46 for 3, with Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli all back in the hut. India were in desperate need of a partnership. And, this is when Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane came to the fore. They added 141 for the fourth wicket, to take India to a reasonably healthy 187 for 4. Pujara top scored in the innings with 87 even as Rahane contributed 77. In hindsight, their partnership was hugely significant.
Saha’s twin fifties: The gutsy Indian wicket-keeper had a memorable match. He scored important fifties in both the innings, the first one being definitely more valuable than the second. When Ravindra Jadeja was dismissed, India were in trouble at 272 for 8. A 300 plus score seemed difficult, but Saha firmly stood his ground, and came up with a stingy unbeaten 54 from 85 balls to take India to a respectable 316. In the second innings, his task was much easier. To his credit, he again came up with the goods, making 58 and remaining unbeaten again.
Brilliant Bhuvneshwar: The medium pacers were not expected to do much damage in the Test. They rarely do in home conditions. But, Bhuvneshwar Kumar proved all the theories wrong with a five-wicket haul. He picked up all five scalps on the second day, as New Zealand crumbled to 128 for 7. There was no way back for them. Kumar’s victims were Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Mitchell Santner and Matt Henry first ball. It was a brilliant exhibition of controlled pace bowling.
Rohit stands up, finally: Having failed in a few Tests before Kolkata, Rohit Sharma was under definite pressure for his place in the Test team. But, he finally delivered the goods. Although India had gained a significant first innings lead of 112, they found themselves in big trouble at 43 for 4 in the second innings. Rohit, first in the company of skipper Virat Kohli, and later Saha, resurrected the innings and put India on top. He looked in total command during his stay out in the middle. It was the kind of knock that deserved a hundred, but Rohit fell for 82.
Jadeja’s dismissal of Nicholls: At a cursory glance, Henry Nicholls is not a big wicket. But, in the context of the Test, it was. After Martin Guptill and Tom Latham had added 55 for the opening stand, Latham, in the company of Nicholls, took the score past 100. The duo were looking in control, and the Indians were clearly beginning to get frustrated. This is when Ravindra Jadeja broke New Zealand’s resistance by sending back Nicholls. From 104 for 1, the Kiwis went on to crumble to 197 all out.
--By A Cricket Analyst