Nagpur: Spinners Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha wreaked havoc on a turning track as India recorded one of their most convincing Test wins in recent times by thrashing New Zealand by an innings and 198 runs in third and final Test to clinch the three-match series 1-0 here on Tuesday.
The spin duo never looked threatening during the entire series but proved to be an altogether different proposition with turn and bounce that was on offer.
Both Harbhajan (3/56) and Ojha (2/67) got appreciable turn and bounce as the Black Caps batsmen literally struggled to stay put on a track that was suddenly looking difficult to bat on. There was sharp turn on offer and some of the balls were also keeping low.
India beat New Zealand by an innings and 198 runs to win Test series.
If Harbhajan and Ojha decimated the top-order, Ishant Sharma (3/15) and Suresh Raina (2/1) blasted out the lower order as New Zealand were all out for 175 in only 51.2 overs.
Needing 349 runs to clear the first innings deficit, the visitors needed to show a lot of application but not having encountered appreciable turn and bounce in the previous matches meant that there wasn't a lot of homework done.
The pressure was immense and Daniel Vettori's men surrendered meekly with the match lasting barely three and half days.
Brendon McCullum (25), the double centurion of the last Test, on whom Vettori must have depended a lot went back in the 14th over as he missed a ball trying to play on the backfoot. It would have hit the leg stump and Simon Taufel made no mistake in ruling the batsman leg before.
Martin Guptill (0) who has had a woeful Test match saw a delivery from Ojha pitched on the leg stump and turn sharply towards the middle stump finding the batsman's pads. Taufel took some time before raising his finger as Ojha was in with a hat-trick chance.
At 38 for three, New Zealand were looking down the barrel. Ross Taylor (29) tried to hit the spinners more out of desperation as the noose got tighter. Wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins' certainly not the best among the wicketkeeper batsman who are playing international cricket was the next man out.
Scratching around for 35 balls having scored only eight, Hopkins tried to drive Harbhajan but the ball turned to find his bat and pad. Gautam Gambhir standing at forward short-leg took a brilliant one-handed reflex catch diving to his right.
While Jesse Ryder (22) did show some stomach for a fight at one end, the other batsmen didn't have good enough technique to play on a turning track. Harbhajan, in fact made good use of the rough patch that was created on side as some of the ball really turned and jumped.
The feisty spinner from Jallandhar got his third victim when Ross Taylor offered a simple bat-pad catch to substitute Cheteshwar Pujara. The television replays however couldn't confirm whether the ball hit the bat or not.
With half the team back in the pavilion for less than 100, the match as a contest was as good as over in the first hour itself.
Kane Williamson (8) was castled by an Ishant Sharma delivery that kept low and moved in after pitching.
Ryder's 53-ball vigil ended when he got out trying to hoick Suresh Raina only to be holed out by Ishant at mid-off.
Raina, who is being groomed as a specialist part-timer as Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag don't bowl often these days bowled a straighter one to trap Vettori (13) plumb in front to reduce New Zealand to 124 for eight.
Ishant got his second wicket when Tim Southee (31, 3x6) was bowled through the gate and wrapped it up with another incoming delivery that breached through Chris Martin's defence.