At Mohali, October 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. Drawn. Toss: New Zealand. Test debuts: R. V. Bharadwaj, D. J. Gandhi, M. S. K. Prasad.
Even though 20 wickets fell in less than a day and a half, the match remained unfinished, the principal reason being the steady decline in the pace of the pitch. At the start it contained sufficientmoisture, partly from sweating under the covers, to make batting a trial, and New Zealand reaped a rich dividend from putting India in. A proliferation of damp patches delayed the start by 45 minutes, but the conditions could hardly be blamed for the speed with which India capitulated. Four wickets down for ten runs in six overs, they were all out for 83 in 27, equalling their second-lowest total at home. New Zealand's three seamers had the discipline to exploit a succession of inept shots by the Indians, who were palpably unprepared for a Test match. They had played no first-class cricket earlier in the season, having instead spent the preceding weeks participating in inconsequential one-day tournaments in various parts of the world. Nash bowled outstandingly to capture six for 27, his best figures in Test cricket.
New Zealand also lost their openers quickly, recovered, then faltered again - and that despite a marked improvement in batting conditions on the second day. With Srinath probing away, a model of accuracy in line and length, the last six wickets added just 59 runs.
India's openers wiped off a deficit of 132, although Ramesh, sometimes tentative against balls outside the off stump, could have been caught three times while making 73. His first chance was offered at 17 in a total of 28. Gandhi, in a more sedate innings of 75, survived him for another 25 overs in partnership with Dravid, who batted on and on for a faultless 144 spread over seven hours, during which time he received 327 balls and hit 18 fours. Even before the second-wicket partnership was broken in the 88th over, when India were still less than 50 ahead, Vettori was bowling from over the wicket.
Off the first ball Tendulkar received, bowled by Astle, he survived the first of several appeals for lbw. Out of the game for a month because of back trouble, he played within the limitations imposed by uncertain form, batting steadfastly for more than six and a half hours and completing his 20th Test hundred. When the time came for the offensive, he let first Dravid and then Ganguly head the charge. Dravid made bold to sweep Vettori out of the rough and inevitably paid the penalty. But Vettori's tactic was unavailing against the left-handed Ganguly, who put him to the sword and scored 64 of the last 95 runs off 75 balls.
India became the first Test side to follow being dismissed for under 100 with a second innings of more than 500. They led by 373 and had 135 overs in which to dismiss New Zealand. But while the ball turned, it turned slowly. Thanks mainly to Fleming, who batted almost five and a half hours, and was out to the last ball of the match, New Zealand survived. It might have been different had he been caught 27 minutes before lunch, and McMillan soon after tea, but both were difficult chances close to the wicket. The match entered the final hour with five wickets standing.
Man of the Match: J. Srinath.