India canter to record margin victory over New Zealand to clinch series

By Sports Desk December 06, 2021

India have cruised to a 372-run victory after swiftly bowling out New Zealand on day four to claim their two-game Test series 1-0.

Jayant Yadav claimed four wickets within nine legal deliveries after the Black Caps resumed at 140-5 chasing an improbable 540 on the fourth day in Mumbai, eventually dismissing the visitors for 167.

Indian opener Mayank Agarwal was named Player of the Match after his first innings 150 set up the win, backing that up with a second innings half-century.

New Zealand left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel had taken a sensational 10-wicket haul in the first innings but the Black Caps struggled for runs, making only 229 for the game.

The margin was India's biggest win by runs in Test history, along with New Zealand's most significant runs defeat. It was also India's 14th consecutive Test series triumph at home.

Ashwin reaches 300 Test scalps at home

Ravichandran Ashwin fittingly claimed the final wicket to secure victory for India, with overnight batsman Henry Nicholls (44) stumped by Wriddhiman Saha, securing eight scalps for the game, with 34-4 in the second innings.

The 35-year-old off-spinner was India's most fruitful bowler for the game but also brought up his 300th wicket on home soil with Nicholls' dismissal. The wicket also was Ashwin's 50th for the calendar year.

Ashwin had feasted on New Zealand's tail-end in the first innings, but claimed four of the top five in the second.

Agarwal exceeds history maker

The exceptional nature of Agarwal's game was underlined by the fact he won Player of the Match honours ahead of someone who took the third 10-wicket haul in Test cricket history.

Agarwal made 212 runs for the game, 17 shy of New Zealand's entire total and his contribution did not stop there, taking the catch for tail-ender Will Somerville's wicket on the fourth day, the ninth to fall.

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    “We play them [England] actually every year, so they know a lot about us, we know a lot about them. It’s just that when you’re playing the game on the day, whoever gets on top has to stay on top for as long as possible,” he added.

    With the venue –named in honour of their current coach Darren Sammy, who captained West Indies to World Cup triumph in 2012 and 2016 –being to their liking, Powell pointed out that they will once again be aiming to capitalise on the conditions in Saint Lucia. West Indies rewrote the record books a few times in their first game of the tournament at the venue on Monday, as they hammered Afghanistan by 104 runs.

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    “We always knew that St Lucia was going to be one of the better pitches to play matches on in the Caribbean because of our experience during CPL (Caribbean Premier League) and all the years of playing here,” Powell noted.

    Obed McCoy (left) and Nicholas Pooran (back turned) starred for West Indies against Afghanistan.

    “So, it’s good that we’re starting here, and we played one game on it (against Afghanistan) before the start of the Super Eights. We’re kind of a little bit accustomed to the boundaries and accustomed to the wicket. Hopefully, it would suit us a little bit more than the Englishmen,” he said.

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    “It’s always good and encouraging when you give guys an opportunity and they take the opportunity because it makes for good competition within the squad. It’s for us as a selection panel – myself, the coach and the chairman – to actually sit down and try to find the best combination. It’s good that guys are putting themselves up and making it a little bit difficult to pick the team,” the Jamaican reasoned.

    “I think a big part of my captaincy is giving guys opportunities and supporting them. Johnson Charles didn’t have particularly a good start to the World Cup but we always knew when he comes home, he’s going to feel at home, he’s going to feel his St Lucians behind him,” Powell shared.

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