India's whitewash of New Zealand a result of team efforts, not just Ravichandran Ashwin's wiles
Virat Kohli termed New Zealand's 3-0 rout as a 'proper team series win' and statistics reveal why his observation seems to be so apt in the bigger context.
It wasn't for anything that Virat Kohli termed New Zealand's 3-0 rout as a "proper team series win" and a simple piece of statistic will reveal why his observation seems to be so apt in the bigger context.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin's 27 wickets complemented by Ravindra Jadeja's 14 accounted for 41 of the 60 New Zealand scalps.
Compared to India's rich haul, the Kiwi bowlers in all managed 42 scalps -- just one more than the Indian 'spin twins'. Mitchell Santner and Trent Boult just about managed to hit the double figures with 10 wickets apiece.
Ashwin's 27-wicket haul is the second best to Harbhajan Singh (32 wickets vs Australia in 2001) in a three-Test series and with couple of 10-wicket match hauls, is only second to Anil Kumble with six from 39 Tests.
Ashwin also has the maximum number of Test victims (220) by any bowler after his first 39 Test matches.
The wickets weren't exactly rank turners and Ashwin at times became unplayable on third and fourth day pitches purely due to his skill rather than help off the pitch.
Jadeja, as Ashwin termed, was an ideal foil as he got the breakthroughs and kept it tight at an economy rate of 2.34.
Among pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar set it up nicely in Kolkata with a five-wicket haul as Mohammed Shami (eight wickets) got the ball to reverse in the second innings at the Eden Gardens.
In the batting department, Cheteshwar Pujara was in his elements, scoring 373 runs with a hundred and three half-centuries with a handsome average of 74 plus.
It seems that he has made the number three slot his own for some more time.
The ever-dependable Ajinkya Rahane continued to grow in stature as a fine long-format player as he recorded his highest individual score of 188 in the Indore Test and was the second-highest scorer in the series with 347 runs.
Virat Kohli's double hundred was a delight as the Indian captain joined the party late, but ended with 309 runs from the series.
While the knock of 211 was a fantastic effort, in which he displayed essential virtues like patience, his second innings 45 at Kolkata was a classic cameo considering the pitch became dodgier with passage of time.
Kohli the captain also came to the fore as he backed Rohit Sharma to the hilt, with the Mumbaikar doing well with three second innings half centuries. The 82 at Eden Gardens was an effort which gave India a decisive upper-hand.
The other big positive was Wriddhiman Saha slowly but surely filling up the void left by MS Dhoni.
The quiet Bengal stumper has been brilliant with his glovework, but time and again showed that he has the ability to bat with the tail. The two half-centuries at the Eden Gardens and the 'Man of the match' award would only bolster his confidence.
In a thoroughly a one-sided series, the only minor blip could be the performance of opener Shikhar Dhawan who failed in the Kolkata Test and should be worried about his place in the side.
Murali Vijay had a couple of half-centuries while Gautam Gambhir, coming back after two and half years, scored a half-century to increase selectorial dilemma.
For New Zealand, opener Tom Latham scored three half-centuries in three matches and the only batsman to aggregate a total of 200 runs -- something that Kohli scored in a single innings.
With captain Kane Williamson not managing to negotiate Ashwin well with only 135 runs -- one of his disappointing series in recent times, the New Zealand batting looked brittle.
In bowling, the spinners led by Mitchell Santner (10 wickets) tried their best but against a quality batting line-up, they were expected to be found short.
Trent Boult (10 wickets) bowled his heart out but there was little help from the other end as neither Matt Henry (six wickets) nor Neil Wagner (five wickets) had the expertise to bowl on Indian pitches. Boult did miss Tim Southee as his experience would have come in handy.
Whether Kohli took the decision to quit T20I captaincy to purely manage the workload or the criticism got to him will remain a mystery for a while, but all things considered, it appears a bold move that should only benefit Indian cricket and him.
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The New Zealand players and staff were taken in bullet-proof buses from their Islamabad hotel to the airport where they boarded the charter flight to Dubai.
"A lot of good cricketers think what is good for them because he must have thought for himself. I'm sure he thinks that he may be able to perform better if he keeps away from leadership (in) this T20 (format) or something," Borde said.