First Test Match

INDIA v NEW ZEALAND 1988-89

Toss: India.

The world Test bowling record became Hadlee's alone when he had Arun Lal edging the first ball of his third over to Kuggeleijn at third slip. Thus the series began on a celebratory note for New Zealand and that country's outstanding cricketer. However, trouble was just round the corner for the New Zealanders, with almost the entire touring side being affected by a mystery ailment on the rest day. Some of the players, especially Hadlee, were violently ill, suffering stomach upsets, bouts of vomiting and shivering from what was assumed to be a virus. At the time, the side was precariously placed in the match with 40 runs still needed for the follow-on to be avoided.

The series had begun on a note of controversy for India, with Mohinder Amarnath, omitted from the side for inexplicable reasons, calling the selectors a bunch of jokers at a press conference on the eve of the Test. But Sidhu, batting in Amarnath's place in the order, vindicated the selectors with a convincing century, his first in Tests, and played the New Zealand spinners with aplomb. He batted for 295 minutes and struck four sixes, all off Gray, and twelve fours on his return to Test cricket after an absence of five years since his debut for India. Shastri's dour four-hour innings and More's chirpy little knock boosted India's total. Hadlee, used judiciously in spells by Wright, took three wickets in six overs on the second morning, including that of Vengsarkar who on the opening day had retired hurt at 73, owing to a pain in the elbow, when his third-wicket stand with Sidhu was worth 174. It was the 98th time Hadlee had taken five wickets or more in an innings in his first-class career and the 33rd time in Tests.

India's total would be a good one if the pitch deteriorated as it was expected to. Wright and Franklin, fighting to find their way through a familiarisation course with Indian spin, were so cautious that the bowlers had no difficulty in gaining the upper hand. Ayub and Hirwani engineered a mid-innings collapse once Jones, who alone displayed the ability to get at the bowlers, fell to a catch at the well-populated close-in cordon. Of the 104 overs bowled on the third day, as many as 50 were maidens. On the fourth day, Smith lashed out at the spinners to make his 30 off 35 balls, but when Kapil Dev trapped him and Kuggeleijn leg-before with successive balls, decisions which were not to the batsmen's satisfaction, New Zealand needed 2 more runs to escape the follow-on. Hadlee, coming out on unsteady legs, prevented the hat-trick and slashed the next ball for four to play the heroic role in a strange drama.

Batting for two and a half hours and extending their lead to 336, India left themselves 388 minutes and twenty overs in which to bowl New Zealand out again. Wright and Franklin were not unduly perturbed in playing out to the close on a day which had seen the former New Zealand captain, J. V. Coney, and a fellow-television commentator turn out as substitutes for the stricken New Zealanders. Hirwani provided the breakthrough with a splendid flipper to bowl Franklin early on the final day, and when he picked up another three wickets in his next twelve overs, the result was never in doubt. The leg-spinner had figures of six for 54 for the day and Ayub four for 33 as New Zealand's demise was hastened on a pitch providing increasing assistance to the spinners. Wright distinguished himself with an innings played under enormous pressure, but the rest of the batting was too brittle and the Indian win was achieved with three hours to spare.

Close of play: First day, India 243-3 (M. Azharuddin 33*, W. V. Raman 2*); Second day, New Zealand 9-0 (T. J. Franklin 5*, J. G. Wright 4*); Third day, New Zealand 145-6 (R. J. Hadlee 1*, J. G. Bracewell 3); Fourth day, New Zealand 73-0 (T. J. Franklin 16*, J. G. Wright 49*).

© John Wisden & Co