Third Test

New Zealand v India 1998-99

At Hamilton, January 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Drawn. Toss: India. Test debut: R. Singh.

Although the pitch was hard and green, New Zealand retained both spinners; their only change was to replace the injured Astle with Twose. But India omitted off-spinner Harbhajan Singh for another seamer, 29-year-old Robin Singh of Delhi (not to be confused with his namesake, the 35-year-old Tamil Nadu all-rounder, who later replaced him in the squad for the one-day internationals).

If India paid for missing their chances in the previous Test with defeat, New Zealand probably sacrificed a second win for the same reason. However, India also handicapped themselves by letting off Twose early on. Azharuddin had put New Zealand in, and Srinath dismissed Bell and Fleming in the first over. But Twose was floored at third slip on seven, and went on to add 95 with Horne and 160 with McMillan, who started uncertainly, then scored 92 off 102 balls, with 14 fours and two sixes. An audacious attempt to pick up Kumble from around off stump led to McMillan's downfall and, just before the close, Twose edged one slanted across him. India made some quick inroads next morning with the new ball, only to be held up by a ninth-wicket stand between Nash and Vettori.

Dravid dominated the next day and a half with a chanceless, gloriously elegant 190, his highest Test score. He shared three substantial partnerships. First, he put on 109 with Tendulkar, who made 67 before a harsh lbw decision triggered a collapse to 211 for seven. Then Srinath joined Dravid to add 144, contributing a career-best 76 with the assistance of three dropped catches and a missed run-out. After Srinath perished slogging, Prasad batted determinedly for an hour. Finally, Dravid, entrenched for more than eight hours, during which he hit 31 fours, played a tired shot at Cairns.

Batting again, New Zealand reached 45 without loss by the close. On the fourth morning, they lost four wickets - two to Tendulkar's leg-breaks - before India's bowling ran out of steam. McMillan, again playing freely, and Parore put on 140. India had one last sniff of victory, dismissing them in consecutive overs, at which point New Zealand, with four wickets left, were just 175 in front. But Cairns, circumspect at first, then unleashed front-foot drives and hefty pulls to score a handsome Test-best 126, and the next two wickets added 239 before New Zealand declared.

India had been played out of the game long before, but Fleming delayed his declaration until after lunch, because the pitch was still too firm and because three of his bowlers - Doull, Nash and Vettori - were injured. Cairns, tail up, dismissed India's vulnerable openers by the 15th over, before Dravid and Ganguly began to enjoy themselves. Both made centuries; Dravid followed Hazare and Gavaskar (who did it three times) to become the third Indian to score twin centuries in a Test.

Man of the Match: C. L. Cairns.

Close of play: First day, New Zealand 283-5 (Parore 9*, Wiseman 0*); Second day, India 196-5 (Dravid 93*, Mongia 0*); Third day, New Zealand 45-0 (Bell 18*, Horne 25*); Fourth day, New Zealand 323-6 (Cairns 52*, Nash 46*).

© John Wisden & Co