In our second and concluding part of the build up to the India-New Zealand Tests, we take at look at India’s performance in New Zealand during the 2008/09 tour. India featured in three Tests during this series, and won the same by virtue of clinching the first Test at Hamilton. The next two Tests at Napier and Wellington were drawn as a result of which India achieved a rare overseas series triumph. Here’s a recap of that memorable tour.
1st Test at Hamilton: March 18-21, 2009
Unlike the present scenario, India’s batting as well as their bowling was in fine form last time round. New Zealand batted first in this Test, and in spite of hundreds from Jesse Ryder and skipper Daniel Vettori were restricted to 279 in their first innings. Ishant Sharma, who is struggling badly at present, was the star for India with four wickets. Munaf Patel supported him well with a three-for even as Zaheer Khan chipped in with a couple of scalps. It is exactly the kind of bowling performance India will need to put up in the current series.
Going back to the 2009 game, India responded with a massive 520, Sachin Tendulkar leading the way with an imperious 160. There were good supporting contributions from the rest as well – Gautam Gambhir made 72, Rahul Dravid 66, Dhoni 47 and even Zaheer chipped in with an unbeaten half-century. India’s bowling was brilliant a second time round as well. The only difference was that this time spin stood out. Harbhajan Singh ran through the New Zealand batting with figures of 6 for 63 as the hosts, for the second time in the match, were bowled out for 279 in spite of fifties from Daniel Flynn and Brendon McCullum. India chased down 39 with all 10 wickets in hand.
2nd Test at Napier: March 26-30, 2009
New Zealand batted first again, but this time put up a mammoth total – 619 courtesy Ryder’s 201 and hundreds from Ross Taylor and McCullum. Under pressure India folded up for 305, with Dravid’s 83 and Laxman’s 76 being the main contributions. Being asked to follow-on, India’s batsmen again reiterated that they had some amazing talent to pull off the incredible. India batted out for 180 overs and made 476 for 4 to save the game. Gambhir made 137, Laxman remained unbeaten on 124 even as Dravid, Tendulkar and Yuvraj made fifties.
3rd Test at Wellington: April 3-7, 2009
India batted first this time and put up a challenging 379 on board. There were no big contributions but Tendulkar, Dhoni and Harbhajan all chipped in with half-centuries. Chris Martin took four wickets for New Zealand. In response, Zaheer put India on top with his five-for as the Kiwis was bowled out for 197. India set New Zealand an improbable 617 to win as Gambhir smashed a memorable 167. Taylor’s fighting 107 however ensured that the Kiwis held on for a draw, and India clinched the hard-fought series 1-0.
--By A Cricket Analyst