NAGPUR // India's spin bowlers finally rediscovered their form yesterday as they dismantled New Zealand's batting to secure their third biggest Test victory and claim the series 1-0.
Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha and Suresh Raina shared seven wickets before Ishant Sharma, the paceman, finished off the tail, bowling out New Zealand for 175 in their second innings to seal an emphatic triumph by an innings and 198 runs.
"We did not expect the game to end so early," said MS Dhoni, the India captain. "It was important to start well. We knew the track was turning so we wanted to capitalise on that and take some early wickets.
"Our spinners got turn and bounce with the new, hard ball in the morning. It was one of those days when everything went to our plans."
India owed their success as much to the pacemen who struck early blows on the first day of the match at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium to bowl out New Zealand for 193 and set the stage for victory.
"We lost the match with the bat," Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand captain, said.
"Winning the toss, batting first and then making only 193 is not something that will win you a Test match.
"I thought Sharma was the difference between the two teams. He got three wickets in the second innings, but also four in the first."
New Zealand had begun yesterday's fourth day on 24 for one, needing 349 runs to avoid an innings defeat after conceding a huge 373-run lead to India, who made 566 for eight in their first innings.
Ojha (two for 67) picked off his first victim in the second over of the morning, trapping overnight batsman Brendon McCullum (25) leg before wicket with a ball that pitched on the middle stump.
He then claimed Martin Guptill without scoring in his next over to leave New Zealand tottering at 38 for three.
The bowler, however, missed out on a third wicket after his appeal for a leg before off Ross Taylor was turned down by Simon Taufel, the umpire. Television replays showed the ball would have hit the middle stump.
Harbhajan (three for 56) then joined in the action, removing Gareth Hopkins (eight) as the wicketkeeper/batsman tried to drive the ball away but ended up being caught brilliantly by a diving Gautam Gambhir at short leg.
Taylor (29) was caught by substitute Cheteshwar Pujara at the same position off Harbhajan, although replays showed the ball had bounced off his pads.
Kane Williamson, the rookie middle-order batsman, was bowled for eight by Sharma (three for 15) while the part-time bowler Raina had Jesse Ryder caught at mid-off for 22.
Raina's off-spin brought him his second wicket, that of Vettori, who was hit on the knee in front of the middle stump.
Sharma returned in the post-lunch session to pick up two wickets in two balls and put an end to New Zealand's day of misery.
Rahul Dravid was named man of the match for his 191 in India's innings, while Harbhajan picked the man of the series award for scoring 315 runs in the three matches - including his maiden century in Test cricket - and taking 10 wickets.
India's five biggest wins
Innings and 239 runs v Bangladesh May 2007
Innings and 219 runs v Australia March 1998
Innings and 198 runs v New Zealand yesterday
Innings and 144 runs v Sri Lanka November 2009
Innings and 140 runs v Bangladesh December 2004