First Test Match

INDIA v NEW ZEALAND

At Bangalore, October 18, 19, 20. India won by eight wickets. Toss: New Zealand. Test debut: L. K. Germon.

Lee Germon became the first cricketer to captain an established Test country on debut since Tony Lewis of England at Delhi 23 years earlier. Despite winning the toss, he could not end New Zealand's disastrous run of form; they lost their sixth Test out of eight with two days to spare, while India's most successful captain, Azharuddin, celebrated his 11th Test win.

Batting first on a pitch still to shed its residual moisture was not a blessing, as the pace of Srinath and Kumble's leg-spin sent New Zealand reeling. Kumble's first wicket, Crowe, was his 100th in his 21st Test; he was to take nine in the match in front of his home crowd. The only resistance came from Germon himself, in his first international innings (he had not batted in his only previous game for New Zealand, a one-day match against Sri Lanka in South Africa). Coming in at 71 for six, he scored a fine 48 with a technical correctness none of his colleagues had displayed - no one else reached 20. Next, he took his first Test catch ten minutes into India's reply. The pitch was still lively enough for New Zealand to pick up three wickets, including Tendulkar, in 28 overs before stumps.

But the overnight pair, Jadeja and Azharuddin, took India past the tourists' total of 145, with Jadeja scoring an adventurous maiden Test fifty. He had been recalled as opener for only his fourth Test, and his first since January 1993, because Sidhu was injured. Azharuddin went on to 87 in 222 minutes, by far the biggest as well as the longest innings of the match, but was finally undone by Cairns's changes of pace, which claimed four for eight in a 22-ball burst. This sent India tumbling from 211 for four to 228 of out and restricted their lead to just 83.

A clever opening spell from Prabhakar then quickly removed both openers, and New Zealand were 58 for four when Crowe was given lbw, pulling a short ball from Kumble - a decision which became the talking point of the day, as he was hit well above the pads. Fleming and Cairns, dragged the fight into the third day but were dismissed early in the morning. That left Germon, who had positioned himself at a humble No. 8, as the lone resister, with his second forty of the match. India's target of 151 could have been a teasing one, but Jadeja smoothed their passage with some sparkling strokes. He dominated a century stand for the opening wicket with a well-made 73 off 92 balls; Azharuddin, who received the match award for his batting in the first innings, graciously said that Jadeja was the more deserving candidate.

Man of the Match: M. Azharuddin.

Close of play: First day, India 81-3 (A. Jadeja 30*, M. Azharuddin 21*); Second day, New Zealand 125-5 (S. P. Fleming 33*, C. L. Cairns 23*).

© John Wisden & Co