Third Test Match

INDIA v NEW ZEALAND

At Cuttack, November 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Drawn. Toss: India.

The folly of the tour schedule became clear when the Third Test, like the Second, was hit by the monsoon rains, which swept in off the Bay of Bengal. Two days were completely lost, though play should have been possible on the third day. But groundsmen discovered that the pitch had been drenched by water seeping through holes in the multi-layered plastic covers, prompting a row about whether the local association or the Indian board was responsible. Proceedings in the match itself could only be of academic interest, but the drudgery was reduced by the tubby leg-spinner Hirwani, making a comeback in his first Test since he bowled against Sri Lanka at Chandigarh five years before. Hirwani took six wickets on the final day in a teasing exhibition of orthodox leg-breaks mixed liberally with googlies.

Play had begun on time on the opening morning. Cairns, bowling what were virtually off-breaks, was among the wickets again on a pitch which had aroused the tourists' misgivings. But drizzle on the first afternoon became a deluge as the storm blew in next day. It was a relief for the bored cricketers to resume on the fourth day, though a result was near-impossible. Cairns and Nash continued to trouble the Indian batsmen, who were in some disarray at 188 for six before Mongia and Kapoor joined forces. They showed how well the pitch was holding up, despite all the moisture. On the fifth morning the English-born Twose finally got to the batting crease, 18 days after his debut in Madras, and he batted for 204 minutes to make 36 before falling victim to Hirwani, while Greatbatch recovered the form with which he had begun the tour.

The draw gave India a 1-0 series win; it was now nine years since their last series defeat on home soil, by Imran Khan's Pakistan in 1986-87.

Man of the Match: N. D. Hirwani.

Close of play:First day, Indian 120-3 (N. S. Sidhu 20*, M. Azharuddin 23*); Second day, No play; Third day, No play; Fourth day, India 296-8 dec.

© John Wisden & Co