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'Clinical' India thrash New Zealand to top Test rankings

India's cricketers celebrate after the dismissal of New Zealand's Will Somerville during the fourth day of their second Test cricket match against New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Monday. PhotoPunit Paranjpe/AFP

India's cricketers celebrate after the dismissal of New Zealand's Will Somerville during the fourth day of their second Test cricket match against New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Monday. PhotoPunit Paranjpe/AFP

Published Dec 6, 2021

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Mumbai — Indian skipper Virat Kohli hailed his "clinical" side after they hammered New Zealand by 372 runs to win the second Test on Monday and clinch the series 1-0.

Spinner Ravichandran Ashwin claimed a match tally of eight wickets — and 300th scalp on home soil — as India usurped the Black Caps as the world's top-ranked Test side.

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New Zealand, who started day four on 140-5 in their chase of an improbable 540, were all out for 167 before lunch in Mumbai.

It was tough on New Zealand's Mumbai-born spinner Ajaz Patel, who had made history with 10 wickets in the first innings.

New Zealand, who doggedly hung on for a draw in the opening match of the two-Test series, were undone by their batting after Ajaz's heroics.

They collapsed to 62 all out in their first innings and were never in the chase against India's spin force.

Kohli, who returned to lead India after he stepped down as national Twenty20 captain and took a short break, said: "To come back with a win is a great feeling, returning as the captain it was a clinical performance, something we've seen time and again.

"You want individuals to step up, and guys did that. Even the first Test match was good, this was better."

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Ashwin, who struck three times in the final session on day three, sent back overnight batsman Henry Nicholls, stumped for 44, for the final wicket.

Jayant Yadav bowled Rachin Ravindra for 18 and struck twice in one over, as he returned career-best figures of 4-49.

Daryl Mitchell, who top-scored with 60, was the only bit of resistance for the tourists during his fourth-wicket stand of 73 with Nicholls on Sunday.

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Lost for words

Ajaz, a left-arm spinner whose name went up on the Wankhede honours board on Saturday after his perfect 10, stood out with match figures of 14-225 — the best ever by a bowler against India.

Ajaz remained the lone performer for New Zealand, who became the World Test champions after beating India in the title clash in June.

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His 14 wickets against India surpassed England fast bowler Ian Botham's 13-106 in Mumbai in 1980.

"It's a special occasion for me and my family. To be able to do that (10-for) is special," Ajaz said after the match.

"I'm knackered but I'll use my quarantine time to recover. It's a different challenge to bowl back home. That's the beauty of Test cricket, it's about adapting your game plan and bowling accordingly."

But the 33-year-old's remarkable effort was part of a losing fight.

He nevertheless had a memorable homecoming including taking the big wickets of Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara for ducks.

"To be honest, I still don't know how to put the 10-for into words," said Ajaz, who was born in Mumbai but moved to Auckland with his parents in 1996.

"I'm trying to absorb it, been flooded with hundreds and thousands of messages. It's overwhelming at the moment."

New Zealand's stand-in skipper Tom Latham said their first-innings collapse was fatal for the tourists, but added he was taking the positives.

"If you take the first innings out of it, then obviously it's a little bit of a different story," said Latham, who took over as captain from the injured Kane Williamson.

"I think it's one of those things in cricket, where everything you do doesn't tend to work and it's just one of those days."

New Zealand take a Christmas break before hosting Bangladesh for two Tests starting January 1.

AFP

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