Third Test Match

INDIA v NEW ZEALAND 1988-89

At Hyderabad, December 2, 3, 4, 6, India won by ten wickets. Toss: New Zealand. The series' decider began along familiar lines, with the New Zealanders threatening to fold up against spin. Arshad Ayub, playing on his home ground, caused the early damage, and Hirwani chipped in to reduce the visitors to 91 for six inside three hours. But Smith, once again batting at No. 8, proved there was no great bogey in the spinning ball. The New Zealand recovery was also helped by India's poor catching, with as many as six chances being put down in the day. The hundred partnership between Greatbatch and Smith was posted in just 100 minutes, Smith doing most of the striking as he cut and swept the spinners with an able touch. Greatbatch, dropped twice before he was in double figures, came into his own after a stolid start, and his driving through the covers was an elegant part of the rescue act. However, the Indian medium-pacers asserted themselves on the second morning. Sanjeev Sharma, in his first Test, had three wickets in four overs, which left Greatbatch stranded 10 runs short of the hundred his 326-minute vigil merited, despite the three reprieves he enjoyed.

Srikkanth established India's reply with his third half-century of the series in conditions which favoured the pace bowlers. There was steep bounce to be had, but Hadlee did not appear to attack the stumps enough and Srikkanth audaciously dismantled the threat of Bracewell by straight-driving him for three sixes across 85-yard boundaries. Chatfield and Snedden, who was playing in his first Test of the series, provided useful support, however, and the Indian innings was wide open for exploitation when Srikkanth mis-hit an intended pull off Snedden high to gully. This was the crucial point of the series, and Azharuddin and Shastri responded to the challenge like mature cricketers, appreciating the value of attacking play lest the bowlers get New Zealand back into the game.

Azharuddin was in particularly good touch. Confidence flowed in him once again as he drove and steered with precision and elegance. Shastri fell early on the third morning, but Kapil Dev kept the batting pegged to the positive. His 40 off 48 balls saw the run-rate leap to 67 in the first hour of fifteen overs, the most productive hour in the series. The confidence inspired by the middle order transformed the game, and with the tail also chipping in, India ultimately finished well ahead.

A deficit of 104 was bigger than New Zealand would have bargained for. On a pitch that was becoming increasingly two-paced, their nerve seemed to give when the spinners operated with their close-catching fielders in position. By the rest day the New Zealanders were probably aware that, unless they produced something extraordinary, they would lose the series. Even so, the collapse was pathetic when the match resumed. Greatbatch misread Hirwani's flipper and was palpably in front. Blain, who had been picked on the basis of his batting against spin in the regional games, failed again; Kuggeleijn did not live up to his all-rounder rating. Wright must have felt lonely indeed as his colleagues departed in such haste. Hadlee connected with a few lusty blows to help avoid defeat by an innings before Kapil Dev came back with his old fire to settle the issue with a burst of three wickets for 1 run. He was on a hat-trick for the second time in the series when he bowled Smith with a fine in-cutter, but Wright denied him.

Having batted for ten minutes under four hours, Wright finally hit a catch back tamely to Shastri. He was the last man out; so close to emulating G. M. Turner, the only New Zealander to carry his bat through a Test innings. Srikkanth hogged the strike to make most of the 21 runs India needed for victory, which was achieved with more than a session and a full day remaining.

Close of play: First day, New Zealand 228-6 (M. J. Greatbatch 76*, I. D. S. Smith 78*); Second day, India 211-4 (R. J. Shastri 41*, M. Azharuddin 35*); Third day, New Zealand 65-3 (J. G. Wright 39*, M. J. Greatbatch 1*).

© John Wisden & Co