AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
HYDERABAD: Ravichandran Ashwin exposed New Zealand's batting limitations against spin with a second successive six-wicket haul as India won the opening Test by an innings and 115 runs on Sunday.
The off-spinner (6-54) was superbly supported by left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha (3-48) as New Zealand, following on after conceding a 279-run lead, collapsed to 164 in their second innings on the penultimate day in Hyderabad.
Man-of-the-match Ashwin, who grabbed a career-best 6-31 in the first innings, finished with 12-85, his best match-haul in seven Tests.
It was also the best performance by an Indian in a Test against New Zealand, surpassing 12-152 by off-spinner Srinivas Venkataraghavan at New Delhi in 1965.
"It's a good start and the pressure is off my back. I can enjoy myself and let the ball do the talking. I enjoyed the wicket. There was enough in it for the bowlers and it was a very good batting wicket as well," said Ashwin, 25.
"I thought there were a couple of very good catches. When catches are being taken, it puts the batsmen under a lot of pressure and it's definitely something you relish as a spinner."
New Zealand were comfortably placed at 98-1 at one stage before losing their last nine wickets for just 66 runs in a dramatic collapse on a spinner-friendly track.
There was no hint of collapse in the morning session as Kane Williamson (52) and opener Brendon McCullum (42) denied India success with their determined batting.
"Not only Aswhin, but Ojha also bowled very well. They bowled well in tandem and put a lot of pressure on us," said New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor.
"I guess any time you are bowled out for 160 both times, you have got to be disappointed. Obviously spin is an area we need to work on and come back harder and stronger at Bangalore (venue for the second Test)."
The tourists' slide began in the afternoon session with the dismissal of McCullum, trapped leg-before by Ojha after adding 72 for the second wicket with Williamson.
India struck twice in the opening six overs of the second session through paceman Umesh Yadav and Ashwin.
McCullum was unlucky to be given out lbw as TV replays suggested he had inside-edged a Yadav delivery on to his pads, while Taylor (seven) was bowled by Ashwin offering no stroke.
Ashwin also removed Daniel Flynn (11) and James Franklin (five) in the afternoon before taking three more wickets in the last session to complete an easy Indian win.
New Zealand added 123 runs to their overnight total of 41-1 after play started two hours late because of rain.
McCullum, an attacking batsman, curbed his shots during his 130-ball knock which contained just three fours.
The 22-year-old Williamson, who cracked a hundred on his Test debut against India in 2010, fell after completing his fifth half-century in 15 Tests, caught by Virender Sehwag in the slips off Ojha.
He hit four boundaries in his 163-ball knock.
The morning session belonged to McCullum and Williamson who applied themselves well, helping their team score 51 in 25 overs.
India started the day with Ojha and Ashwin, who had shared nine wickets in the first innings, but the duo failed to trouble McCullum and Williamson.
India had dismissed New Zealand for 159 in the first innings on Saturday after posting 438.
The second and final Test starts in Bangalore on August 31.