New Zealand claim victory in tense first test

MARK GEENTY IN AUCKLAND
Last updated 17:37 09/02/2014

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BIG HEARTED: Neil Wagner produced an inspirational spell in the afternoon session.

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New Zealand's pace attack did the job for their skipper as the home side polished off India by 40 runs in a gripping first cricket test in Auckland today.

Pace spearhead Trent Boult took the final wicket to fall, that of Ishant Sharma, late on the fourth day as India were dismissed for 366 in pursuit of a lofty 407 to win.

Left-armer Neil Wagner was the star for New Zealand, ending with 4-62 including the big wickets of centurion Shikhar Dhawan (115) and Virat Kohli (67) with the old ball as India were cruising at 222-2.

Wagner claimed eight wickets for the match and gloveman BJ Watling snared nine catches, six of them in the second innings including the last one off Sharma. 

Watling's catches were a record haul by a New Zealand gloveman in a test, beating Brendon McCullum's record of eight against Pakistan in Napier in 2009.

Boult and Tim Southee were excellent with the second new ball as New Zealand stormed to victory, taking six wickets apiece in the test.

It was an absorbing, seesawing match where New Zealand dominated the first two days then India roared back when they dismissed the hosts for 105 in their second innings yesterday.

Captain McCullum's New Zealand side, ranked eighth to India's second going into this series, have now won three successive tests this summer, all with an unchanged 11.

India captain MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja were India's last hopes as New Zealand's pacemen chipped away after the tea break.

The pair went on the attack, before Boult broke the partnership when he had Jadeja caught at mid-on by Ish Sodhi, for 26 off 21 balls.

Wagner then removed Zaheer Khan and Dhoni in quick succession. 

Dhoni (39 off 41) was the big scalp as Wagner bowled a slower bouncer and the skipper dragged it onto his stumps.

Replays showed Wagner was just inside the return crease with his back foot and the wicket stood. New Zealand celebrated wildly, knowing the last rites remained.

New Zealand have an unbeatable 1-0 series lead heading into the second and final test starting in Wellington on Friday. 

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- Fairfax Media

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