20 May 2024

NZ beats India by 7 wickets in 2nd test, sweeps series 2-0


New Zealand beat top-ranked India by seven wickets in the second cricket test Monday, following up its 10 wicket win in the first to sweep the series and cause upheaval in the ICC Test Championship.

Needing only 132 runs to win after dismissing India for 124 in its second innings, New Zealand was marched toward that total by openers Tom Latham (52) and Tom Blundell (55), who put on 103 for the first wicket.

New Zealand lost the wickets of both openers and captain Kane Williamson (5) on the way but reached its target in 36 overs with Ross Taylor and Henry Nicholls both 5 not out.

India started the day 90-6 after leading New Zealand by seven runs on the first innings. New Zealand's victory was all but assured when it took only 10 overs to wrap up the innings with Trent Boult taking 4-28 and Tim Southee returning 3-36. By the end of India's second innings, 30 wickets had fallen for 501 runs in just over two days, an average 167 runs per innings in a match dictated by seam bowling.

Latham and Blundell were the first batsmen to get on top of an attack in their century opening partnership which was the last indignity India had to endure before the match and series ended.

"Both tests were played on fairly sporting surfaces where bowlers had to put the ball in the right areas and if you did you created opportunities throughout," Williamson said. "History suggests it does a bit initially then flattens out but therein lies the value of those partnerships that we had with the bat, those 30s and 40s that were huge out there on that surface."

India arrived in New Zealand unbeaten in seven matches in the Test Championship and atop the standings. New Zealand, in contrast, was coming off a crushing 3-0 test series defeat in Australia which made light of its test ranking of No. 2.

But New Zealand showed again how formidable it can be in its own conditions. It has now won six consecutive test series at home.

India's batsmen must have been taken aback when the covers were drawn back from the Hagley Oval pitch on the first day Saturday to show a surface which was bright green and slightly moist. For the second test in a row New Zealand won an influential toss and asked India to bat first. At the Basin Reserve, it bowled out India for 165 to set up its 10-wicket win.

In Christchurch India battled harder on the first day when the bounce was spongy, the seam a little less pronounced, and made 242 as the young New Zealand fast bowler Kyle Jamieson took 5-45. When the pitch hardened on the second day the ball began to do much more, swinging long distances, seaming sharply and fizzing off a length.

India's pacemen put the conditions to good use to bowl out New Zealand for 235 and give their team a seven-run first innings lead. For the first time in the series, and on this tour, Jaspit Bumrah showed what makes him one of most highly-rated bowlers in world cricket, taking 3-62. Bumrah took 0-167 in the three-match one-day series and 1-89 in the first test.

It was India's batsmen who failed most spectacularly, though, especially captain Virat Kohli, the world's top-ranked batsman who made 2 and 19 in the first test, 3 and 14 in the second for a total of 38 runs at 9.5 — one of his worst series. In total Kohli made 218 runs in nine innings in New Zealand across all three formats.

Kohli said he would make no excuses for his team losing a test series overseas but said India would have to go back to the drawing board to correct its failings.

"I think it was a matter of not having enough intent in the first test, playing well in the first innings here but then it was a case of small margins," he said. "You also have to give credit to the New Zealand bowlers. They bowled in the right areas for long enough, created pressure, there were hardly any opportunities to score runs which meant you had to play extravagant shots.

"It was a combination of us not having the right execution and New Zealand playing really well in their conditions."

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