India v New Zealand, 1st Test, Ahmedabad, 4th day

Martin five sparks stunning turnaround

The Bulletin by Siddarth Ravindran

November 7, 2010

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India 487 and 82 for 6 (Martin 5-31) lead New Zealand 459 (Williamson 131, Ryder 103, McCullum 65, Taylor 56) by 110 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details


Chris Martin celebrates Sachin Tendulkar's wicket, India v New Zealand, 1st Test, Ahmedabad, 4th day, November 7, 2010
Chris Martin bowled Sachin Tendulkar, turning in one of his finest performances © AFP
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New Zealand ended the fourth day dreaming of a famous win in Ahmedabad after India's vaunted batting proved no match against an inspired Chris Martin, whose ninth five-wicket haul left the home side effectively at 110 for 6. The mayhem in Motera in the second half of the day was in complete contrast to the morning session when Kane Williamson's debut Test century steered New Zealand past 400 and the match looked set to meander towards a dull draw. Instead, India are looking to their chief firefighter, VVS Laxman, to put in a third consecutive match-turning second-innings effort.

India seemed to have wrested a slim advantage after prising out the final five New Zealand wickets for 42. With Hamish Bennett injured and Jesse Ryder nursing a calf strain, New Zealand's man-for-all-occasions Daniel Vettori would have to share the new ball with Martin. The possibility of Virender Sehwag cashing in to help India force a result was very much alive.

What unfolded couldn't have been more different. Gautam Gambhir made his third successive second-innings duck, inside-edging Martin to the keeper. On a pitch which had till then seemed comatose, Martin got the ball to jag in appreciably, forcing the batsmen to play cautiously.

New Zealand's fielding had been abysmal in the first innings, with several dropped catches, but substitute Martin Guptill's sublime bit of fielding sent back dangerman Sehwag. Rahul Dravid punched the ball towards mid-off, where Guptill threw himself to his left to cut it off, causing confusion among the batsmen. Dravid stopped and sent Sehwag back after taking several paces down the track, and Guptill's reverse-flick while still on his knees was accurate enough for the bowler to run out the stranded Sehwag.

It got even better for New Zealand as a tentative Dravid poked at a ball outside off from Martin that held its line to feather it to the keeper. India went in to tea at 2 for 3, but were comforted on seeing the man in form, Sachin Tendulkar, pick off ten runs off a Martin over soon after the break.

Smart Stats

  • Kane Williamson's 131 is the highest score by a New Zealand batsman against India on debut. It is also the second-highest score by a New Zealand batsman on debut behind Matthew Sinclair's 214 against West Indies.
  • Chris Martin's spell of five for 25 is the fifth-best bowling performance by New Zealand bowler in India and at present, the second best by a visiting bowler at Ahmedabad behind Dale Steyn's 5 for 23.
  • India's score of 15 for 5 is their worst score at the fall of the fifth wicket against New Zealand and their second lowest overall. Three of the six worst scores at the fall of the fifth wicket have come against New Zealand.
  • Daniel Vettori became the fifth New Zealand batsman to reach 4000 runs in his 101st Test. He has 3995 runs for New Zealand and 8 for the ICC World XI.
  • Gautam Gambhir has now made three ducks in his last five innings and just 86 runs in his last nine innings. During that period, his average has fallen from 57.50 to 49.92.

That proved only a temporary relief as another Martin indipper took Tendulkar's inside-edge on its way to the leg stump. Martin greeted new man Suresh Raina with a surprise bouncer, and then slipped in a fuller delivery the next over; Raina was caught on the crease and nicked a drive to slip. India were 15 for 5 - India's second-worst score at five down in their Test history - and there could have been further trouble when Dhoni was struck high on the pads three balls later by yet another incutter.

Laxman and Dhoni set about reviving the Indian innings, though there were no easy runs on offer from the accurate New Zealand spin pair of Vettori and Jeetan Patel. They eased the ball around for singles, and threw in the odd boundary, and when they had blunted the bowling for 24 overs, New Zealand's hopes started to recede. Martin wasn't done for the day, though, and an effort-ball from him produced some extra bounce and Dhoni chopped the ball onto the stumps. Harbhajan came out and attempted the big shots, pulling some off and missing others, but manage to remain unbeaten with Laxman at stumps.

New Zealand will fancy their chances of winning this Test, a position India would have expected themselves to be in after their first innings. First, they hadn't anticipated New Zealand's spirited batting performance. Williamson, supported by his captain Vettori, who played a characteristically gritty innings, added 86 in the morning before Williamson fell in the final over before lunch with New Zealand well past 400.

India's chances in the session before that late breakthrough came in the first four overs: a couple of lbw appeals against Vettori and a Williamson nick just short of third slip. For the next 100 minutes, it was all New Zealand. Williamson hit a couple of boundaries off Zaheer Khan - a pull behind square and a glance to fine leg three balls later - to move from 93 to 101 and become the eighth New Zealander to make a hundred in his first Test. There were no extravagant theatrics that you might expect from a 20-year-old who had played a fine innings to rescue his team from a tight spot; just a big grin and a wave of the bat towards the dressing room.

Vettori settled down after his initial jitters, and went past 4000 Test runs, again showcasing how much his batting has developed in the last few years. India's bowlers were flat in the morning and it didn't help that Zaheer, who has been Dhoni's go-to bowler, didn't appear to be 100% fit, rarely hitting even 130kmh. India wheedled out the last four New Zealand wickets in the hour-and-a-half after lunch but could scarcely have imagined the nightmare to follow.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo

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