India took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match Test series after beating New Zealand by 178 runs in the third Test at Kolkata. Victory over the Kiwis not only gave them the series but also the No.1 ranking in Tests.
After India won the toss and elected to bat first, they put on 316, thanks to fifties from Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Wriddhiman Saha. In response, the Kiwis were bundled out for 204. Fifties from Rohit Sharma and Saha in the second innings meant New Zealand had a mountain to climb to level the series.
In the end, they were bundled out for 197 runs in the second innings with all the bowlers sharing the wickets to give India a 2-0 lead and extend Kohli’s unbeaten record as captain to 12 consecutive Tests.
Indian fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar was surprised by the conditions in Kolkata. He said: "In India we generally don't get these kind of wickets (with grass cover) and I was just trying to make the most of it. It's always good to be in the mix, you always work hard to play the match and when you contribute, it's always special.
“Thanks to the physio and trainer, they really worked hard and pushed me to work hard (talking about his recovery from a troublesome ankle). When you are out of the team or not fit, you get matured in terms what you need to do to come back into the game and improve your game.
Speaking about his bowling partner, he added: “I always enjoy bowling with Shami, especially when the ball reverses. He's a a great character. He's the most lazy in the team, but when he's on the field he gives 100 percent. It's a pleasure to know that the team is ranked No. 1. And to contribute to the win is great. It's a sweet victory for us.”
Wriddhiman Saha picked up the Man of the Match award. He said: "I am very happy about winning the series and getting my first MoM award, well supported by the crowd and my teammates. No extra pressure. When I was out there, I was thinking about defending the good balls and hitting the bad balls.
“Kolkata's media has always supported me, and so have the players. I didn't score in the Kanpur match and so took my time in the beginning here and then went to my strengths. I just did my job behind the stump. I watch the ball upto the last minute and use soft hands, that's it.”
New Zealand captain Ross Taylor admitted that he thought the pitch would be different. “To be honest, we thought the pitch would be different. A good cricket wicket, it's just been relaid, and is going to get better and better,” he said.
“I guess anytime you have a 112-run deficit, you're always under pressure. We got some early wickets, but the partnership between Saha and Rohit took it away from us. I thought Tom Latham was outstanding today. Never been to Indore before, it will be interesting to see what the wicket will be like. Good to see Kane Williamson at the ground today, still a bit pale, but knowing him, he'll be back in the nets tomorrow."
Kohli says Saha is the best keeper in the country
Indian captain Virat Kohli said: “Lovely Test match. As Taylor said, this was a brilliant Test wicket apart from the variable bounce here and there. When the wicket settles down, it will be a pretty wanted venue in India. It was an all-round performance. Bowlers did well. Saha did well and Shami and Bhuvi contributing. Those extra runs were important. We expect fight from a side like New Zealand but it took character to bounce back both times.
Speaking about Saha, Kohli said: “Saha is the best keeper in the country and he is doing a great job in Tests: is wonderful behind the stumps and can bat. He backs himself and can bat with the tail. Backs himself to play his shots. That hundred in the West Indies really helped his confidence and he has been a revelation for the side.
On Rohit Sharma, he added: “Rohit showed good intent, played positive cricket and we all know about his love affair with Eden Gardens. I was expecting him to score at least once in these two innings.”
He also praised the Kolkata crowd and said it “made a massive difference to Shami and it put extra pressure on the new batsmen”.
On the No.1 ranking, the Indian skipper said: “To keep playing consistent cricket is our objective, and if we do that, with a long home season, we have a control of the No. 1 ranking. We have played really good cricket for the last one and a half years. We want to keep doing that and show character when needed."
Here are the reactions from the cricket fraternity:
Eden gardens— Rohit Sharma (@ImRo45) October 3, 2016
Congrats @BCCI for winning the 2nd test and series INDvsNZ— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) October 3, 2016
The series and the top ranking. Clinical. The better team won.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) October 3, 2016
Congrats Team India on winning the series&becoming the number 1 team in TestsI am sure they will hold this position for a long time @BCCI— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) October 3, 2016
Just fantastic watching a Test match at Eden Gardens! Just an awesome ground to play cricket! #Kolkata— Dean Jones (@ProfDeano) October 3, 2016