India completed a 3-0 whitewash in devastating fashion as a seven-wicket haul from R Ashwin shot New Zealand out for 153 in their last innings of the series. India declared just under an hour from tea, after Cheteshwar Pujara had completed his eighth Test hundred, to set New Zealand a target of 475 and give themselves a day and a half to take 10 wickets. They only needed 44.5 overs, as New Zealand lost nine wickets for 115 runs in the post-tea session.
Ashwin’s figures of 7 for 59 were his best in Test cricket, as were his match figures of 13 for 140. He picked up his 21st five-wicket haul, his sixth ten-wicket match haul, his seventh Player of the Match award and seventh Player of the Series award – fourth in a row – as well. There probably isn’t a more influential cricketer anywhere in the world today. Certainly no one has played a bigger part in India securing the No. 1 Test ranking, a feat they got to celebrate when Virat Kohli was handed the ICC Test championship mace at the end of the match, in front of a capacity crowd in Indore.
Set a similar task last year in another dead-rubber Test, on a similar slow turner at Feroz Shah Kotla, South Africa chose to block their way to a draw. They didn’t succeed, but they did make India toil for 143.1 overs. New Zealand, having until now given India a harder time on this tour than South Africa did in theirs, adopted an entirely different approach and collapsed spectacularly.