December 14, 2002

Bond fires up and India left gasping as NZ win by 10 wickets

New Zealand lived out the cliche that a team united can always beat a team of stars when recording a surprisingly easy 10-wicket win over India at the Basin Reserve in Wellington today.

The National Bank Series win, achieved at 4.28pm was completed in barely two and a half days giving New Zealand their 52nd victory in their 300th Test match.

India batted for only 96.5 overs in the match.

To place the level of India's performance in perspective it should be remembered that last summer world cricket minnow Bangladesh faced more overs in each of their two Tests in New Zealand. In Hamilton they faced 104.3 and followed that with 105 in Wellington.

India were dismissed for a disappointing 121 in their second innings, after they had conceded an 86-run lead on the first innings. New Zealand were left needing 36 to win, a feat achieved without loss by the man of the match Mark Richardson, and Lou Vincent.

The game was all but over by the time India had reached the 86 required to make New Zealand bat again. They were six wickets down after Kiwi fast man Shane Bond ripped through their middle-order to leave the Indians reeling.

He finished with four wickets for 33 runs, bowling Sachin Tendulkar for 51 to end the innings of misery for the tourists.

There was no excuse for the ineptness of the Indian batting. There was some movement off the track and through the air, never more so than when a Bond inswinger bowled Rahul Dravid, but Dravid invited the ball through a huge gap as he played a luxurious drive totally out of keeping with the situation facing his side.

But that wasn't reason enough for the capitulation that twice occurred in this match and which made a mockery of several of the players' rankings on the world stage.

Only Dravid, for his first innings 76, and Tendulkar for his battling 51 in the second innings, could take any comfort from their efforts and even they were below the batting standard that might normally be expected of them.

The 89 scored by Richardson in the first innings was an example that there is still a place for tradesmen in the game. His application over 407 minutes was a textbook demonstration of what the conditions required and, given the knowledge that a similar pitch can be expected in Hamilton, he may yet be a significant force in the second Test.

Considering all that has happened to New Zealand cricket this year, the result was a triumph for the amount of depth now emerging on the scene here.

The side has won its third Test match without the services of world-class all-rounder Chris Cairns. In Jacob Oram it introduced another player to the international game who rose to the occasion with his bowling and fielding at least.

There was also no need to use left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori in the bowling at all. For the first time in his 43-Test career he wasn't required to bowl a ball. He did highlight the depth in the New Zealand batting by completing a typical score of 20 as New Zealand looked to lengthen their lead this morning.

And after the players' strike, a public relations disaster for the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association, it was the perfect retort to allay what could have been an embarrassing response from the public had the match not been won.

It also produced an interesting response at the end of the game when for the first time in recent history, and possibly ever, the media were invited into the team dressing room for after-match interviews.

This is quite a common phenomenon in the home of professional sport in the United States but is rare in New Zealand.

Remembering that New Zealand fielded below its usual standard in the first innings, and batted below par, Richardson excepted, in the first innings, it was a mark of the side's resilience that their second innings fielding was the perfect complement to some fine bowling.

There's no doubt that if you have a class fast bowler, who adds to his potency by being able to swing the ball, his effectiveness is greatly enhanced if he is supported by quality catching. New Zealand managed that in the second innings with skipper Fleming completing one of the better dismissals at first slip to remove teenager Parthiv Patel to expose the lower-order. Craig McMillan at backward point took another to send Ajit Agarkar packing while Scott Styris took a superb effort to end Zaheer Khan's innings.

In his seven-Test career, Bond has now taken 33 wickets at 22.84 - it is an unusually effective start to an international career by a fast bowler in this country.

India's bowlers lacked anything like the pace of Bond but there was much to admire in the bowling of left-armer Khan who ended with his maiden five-wicket haul in a Test innings when gaining Vettori's wicket. Earlier, he had removed Richardson with the first delivery with the second new ball to give India every chance of chasing less than 100 runs to get in front.

Unfortunately, his batsmen didn't rise to the challenge and India suffered accordingly.

This was their fourth loss in a row on the Basin Reserve, following those in 1975/76, in 1980/81 and in 1998/99. The ground has been New Zealand's most successful Test ground, this victory being the 11th.