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India sent a team tender in years, although not necessarily in experience, to New Zealand for their fourth tour there. Kapil Dev was the only player over 30, and eight were under 25. When Navjot Sidhu was injured in the First Test, his replacement, Dilip Vengsarkar, became the senior member of the side. In addition to Vengsarkar, the Indians had omitted Ravi Shastri, Krish Srikkanth and Arshad Ayub from the original touring party, to the surprise of many in New Zealand.
The cricket manager, Bishen Bedi, said that the Indians proposed to play positive and entertaining cricket. They were, indeed, a highly attractive side, but their commendably positive approach cost them the First Test when too many airy, imaginative shots were played. With the Napier Test ruined by the rain, and the Auckland one ending in an honourable draw, New Zealand extended their run of home series without defeat to eleven years. India's new captain, Mohammad Azharuddin, by far the best of their batsmen in style and in run-scoring, was among those who felt a desperate need to demolish the New Zealand attack in the Christchurch Test. He made 48 and 30, but all the evidence was that he should have batted a lot longer. He played brilliantly at Auckland, where for the second time in his career he narrowly missed the opportunity of scoring a Test double-century.
All the principal batsmen had their successes in New Zealand, although Sanjay Manjrekar had a disappointing series, considering his Test average of 60.30 before the tour began. Wookeri Raman, a left-handed opener, was impressive in defence, while sixteen-year-old Sachin Tendulkar batted with the poise of a player twice his age. At Napier, 80 not out overnight, he seemed destined to become the youngest batsman to score a Test century, but he added only 8 more runs next morning. Kiran More, the vice-captain, gave plenty of vocal encouragement to the leg-spinner, Narendra Hirwani, from his position as wicket-keeper, and he showed what a valuable batsman he was late in the order.
Hirwani, although bowling tidily, found the New Zealand pitches not to his liking. Atul Wassan bowled medium-fast to good effect, and played a whirlwind innings at Auckland. Kapil Dev, however, failed to fire with bat or ball, and the best all-rounder in the side was Manoj Prabhakar. He bowled tightly, without a lot of luck, and when required to open the innings after Sidhu's injury, he scored 234 runs in four innings.
At the end of the Test matches, the Indians competed in a triangular one-day series, with New Zealand and Australia. For so youthful a side, gracious and popular, they did reasonably well in strange conditions. But if neither in the Tests nor in the one-day internationals was the best seen of this side, as tourists they were a delight for their opponents, for administrators and for the public. Not only did they play cricket with zest; as a side they were well disciplined, on the field and beyond it. At the slightest show of dissent - and this happened only once or twice - Azharuddin was quick to soothe the bowler or the fieldsman concerned. The whole tour was a triumph.
John Wright, the New Zealand captain, scored two centuries in the Tests, Andrew Jones, Martin Crowe and Ian Smith one each. Wright, forsaking his usual stance with the bat held at the horizontal, adopted a more natural style which was an immediate success. His hundred at Napier was his ninth in Tests. At Auckland, Smith played one of the most remarkable of New Zealand Test innings. New Zealand, 78 for five at lunch on the first day, were 131 for seven when Smith came in. In 128 balls, he scored an extraordinary 169 runs before the close of play, passing the previous highest score by a No.9 batsman in Test cricket and equalling another Test record by plundering 24 in an over by Wassan.
When Richard Hadlee bowled Manjrekar in the second innings at Christchurch, he had his 400th Test wicket, a land mark achieved after three injury-ridden seasons. He was presented, on the ground, with 400 roses by a local admirer, and Bedi also came out to congratulate him. Over the series, however, Danny Morrison was the star bowler, taking five wickets in an innings in each of the Tests. While still occasionally wayward, he bowled with genuine pace and New Zealand will be looking to him to be their leading strike bowler in the years to come.
Test matches- Played 3: Lost 1, Drawn 2.
First-class matches- Played 6: Won 1, Lost 1, Drawn 4.
Win- NZCC President's XI.
Loss- New Zealand.
Draws- New Zealand (2), Otago, Northern Districts.
One-day internationals- Played 4: Won 1, Lost 3. Win- New Zealand. Losses- Australia (2), New Zealand.
Match reports for