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India pummel NZ, zoom to top in ICC rankings

 Agencies |  2016-10-04 22:58:20.0  |  Kolkata

India pummel NZ, zoom to top in ICC rankings

India pulled off a brilliant all-round performance to trounce New Zealand by 178 runs in the second Test to clinch the series with an unassailable 2-0 lead which also propelled them to the top of the ICC rankings dethroning arch-rivals Pakistan, on Monday.

Virat Kohli's men wrapped up the series-deciding victory on the Fourth day of the match after setting the Black Caps a mammoth target of 376 runs to chase.

The visitors showed some spark to start with but their chase floundered in the post-tea session and the side was bowled out for 197 in 81.1 overs in what was India's 250th home Test.

The home team had earlier finished its second innings at 263 in 76.5 overs.

Following Rohit Sharma's 82-run knock on Sunday, Wriddhiman Saha also picked up his second successive half-century of the match by scoring a 120-ball 58, laced with half a dozen fours.

Faced with an improbable chase, New Zealand were off to a confident start before things went downhill in the final session of the day. Opener Tom Latham top-scored for them with a 148-ball 74, which included eight hits to the fence.

His innings gave New Zealand some hope of springing a surprise but off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin put paid to any such eventuality in just the second over after tea, inducing an edge off his bat which was comfortably taken by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha. Besides Latham, Luke Ronchi was the only one to play an innings of significance, accounting for 32 runs (60 balls, 4x4).

However, rest of the Black Caps' line-up failed to apply itself on the tricky track, exploited well by both the pacers and spinners.

Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were the top Indian wicket-takers with hauls of 3/82 and 3/41 respectively. Among the pacers, Mohammed Shami grabbed 3/46 in a fine concerted bowling performance.

The two teams will now move to Indore for the third Test starting October 8 which would be followed by a five-match ODI series.

Having extracted reverse swing with the old ball, Shami cleaned the tail after new ball was taken in the 80th over.

Trent Boult was the last wicket to fall on Monday when he tried to pull a bouncer but instead top-edged to Murali Vijay, who completed a clean catch. 

New Zealand desperately missed skipper and batting talisman Kane Williamson, who was ruled out of the match owing to illness. Latham, however, stood out with a stellar knock but the left-hander lacked support at the other end, and the writing was on the wall after he was dismissed in the second over after tea.

Having starred in Kanpur with a 10-wicket match haul, Ashwin, bowling with a corn in his middle finger, was once again the key on an eased-out track that looked slow, aiding little turn.

Ashwin struck in the fifth ball after lunch to give India the first breakthrough by dismissing senior opener Martin Guptill (24), snapping the 55-run opening partnership.

Jadeja joined in before Ashwin took his second but Latham stayed on completing his second successive half-century and ninth overall.

Latham looked in firm control of the proceedings till he took a leading edge on 66 but survived owing to confusion between Kohli and Ashwin.

Kohli dived for the catch from short cover but it was a half-hearted attempt after realising that Ashwin too was going for it. But neither of them could hold onto it and Latham did not mind it.

Latham, however, could not extend his vigil as Ashwin once again gave a crucial breakthrough in the second over after tea by ending the left-hander's elegant innings. Having starred in Kanpur with a 10-wicket match haul, Ashwin, bowling with a corn in his middle finger, was once again the key on an eased-out track that looked slow, aiding little turn.

Kohli says No. 1 India will not take the foot off pedal

Reclaiming the No. 1 spot has not satiated Virat Kohli's hunger for success and the Indian captain on Monday said the team will at no point "take the foot off the pedal" as he set his sights on holding onto the numero uno status for a prolonged period.

India dethroned arch-rivals Pakistan from the top of the ICC Test rankings with a 178-run win over New Zealand for an unassailable 2-0 lead, the victory coming on the back of a brilliant all-round performance.

"I mentioned this before also, rankings are something that are just an incentive for what you do on the field. I didn't even know how many points difference we had to get to No 1. We just want to win every game we play, it's as simple as that," Kohli said in the post match news conference.

He added, "It doesn't mean that we take the foot off the pedal in Indore. We don't drop intensity there, we don't drop our character, our vision to win a Test match for the country."

This was India's fourth successive Test series victory under Kohli, beginning with the success story in Sri Lanka.

India are now unbeaten in 13 Tests, including 11 wins and two draws.

Taking a dig at critics, the combative skipper said, "I feel all those questions are to take the focus away from the team. We don't believe in that. Because we have to go and play cricket ourselves. We can't think of external factors. We never do.

Kohli said the team's only aim is to win matches, irrespective of where they are playing. "We have shown that over the past one-and-a-half years. So we don't go out there to prove anything to anyone. That we have a challenging win and we have to win because people are asking questions. We are doing our job, people are doing theirs. That's how the balance goes.

"It's basically what you want to entertain and what you don't want to entertain. As simple as that. But when we go on to the pitch we have control of what we can achieve. We understand our abilities.

"We have enough belief in our abilities to play good cricket anywhere. Not putting pressure of winning on challenging wickets, but believing in ourselves to execute our plans to the best of our abilities to execute." 

Having completed a comprehensive 197-run victory on a turning Kanpur wicket, the conditions at the Eden were different. The relaid surface offered variable bounce as the Indian seamers took 12 wickets, including a fine five-wicket haul for Bhuvneshwar Kumar. "Obviously individual brilliance, one-odd game, someone will get a magnificent hundred in the fourth innings and win you the game. You'll feel very happy but as a captain I think this win is far more satisfying than individual brilliance winning you a game.

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