India Reclaims Top Spot, Dethroning New Zealand with Massive 372 Run Victory
By: Aviral Sharma
India is finally back at the top of the Test mountain after a disappointing campaign at the T20 World Cup and a bitter loss at the inaugural World Test Championship finals, defeating New Zealand by an insurmountable 372 runs and taking the series home 0-1.
The Men in Blue, under new coach Rahul Dravid, had to make sure they made a mark with their performance on home soil, which they started with whitewashing the Kiwis in the T20I series. In the first Test, however, India could only grind their teeth in frustration as Rachin Ravindra, and Ajaz Patel hunkered down the fort for the Kiwis on the last wicket, leading to a draw on the last day of the match.
In the second match, which started on December 3 at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, India had to win. And win, they did, posting 325 in the first innings with a 150 from opener Mayank Agarwal and a half-century from mid-order Axar Patel. Interestingly, all of India’s ten wickets in this innings went to the Kiwi’s new hero Ajaz Patel. The Black Caps were completely outclassed with the bat, all out at just 62.
While commentators were wondering aloud whether Virat Kohli would send the Kiwis on a follow-on, the captain took the opportunity to take another swing with the bat. The team posted a respectable 276 for 7 before declaring the innings. In the second innings, too, Agarwal managed to continue his form driving to a comfortable 62 before being caught off-guard by Ajaz Patel.
New Zealand was hardly better with the bat this time around. Only a Daryl Mitchell half-century brought them to a 167 before they folded against a crushing target of 540.
With this victory, India jumped past arch-rivals New Zealand to regain the number one spot in the ICC Test rankings and ensured that Rahul Dravid’s tenure as the head coach has started off with flying colours. This test series also marked the end of the visitors’ ten matches unbeaten streak in the all-white format.
This victory also gave the ‘Men in Blue’ 12 ICC World Test Championship points for the ongoing cycle (2021 – 23) of the tournament, keeping them in the third position with 42 points in the bag. With 58.33 points, they stand only behind Sri Lanka and Pakistan now. New Zealand, meanwhile, has been demoted to sixth place.
Kohli and company are now all focused on their tour to South Africa. The series was supposed to start initially from December 17 but will begin from December 26. The tour was supposed to comprise a Test, ODI and T20I series. However, it has been reduced to only Tests and ODIs, keeping in mind the safety of players amidst a spike in the new Omicron variant cases.
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