Second Test Match

India v New Zealand 1999-2000

At Kanpur, October 22, 23, 24, 25. India won by eight wickets. Toss: New Zealand.

As if the pitch's appearance was not tell-tale enough, India's inclusion of an extra spinner, Harbhajan Singh, in place of a seam bowler, Venkatesh Prasad, confirmed the belief that it would break up sooner rather than later. New Zealand also excluded a seamer, O'Connor, to make room for a second spinner in Wiseman.

If the groundsman, by shaving the pitch and leaving it underprepared, had bestowed on India an advantage that the uncommitted spectator might consider unfair, providence attempted to redress the balance by favouring New Zealand with the toss. They squandered their good fortune, conceding four wickets before lunch through poor batting, and only the determination of the lower middle order saw the innings into the second day. Kumble took the bowling honours with four for 67, but Srinath's performance in taking three top-order wickets for 62 was more distinguished.

New Zealand's recovery was wasted by indifferent bowling and two significant missed catches. Gandhi and Ramesh were allowed to add 103 between lunch and tea on a pitch that had already become uneven in pace and bounce. Gandhi, who batted four hours for 88, with 14 fours and a six, was dropped at silly point when only four; Ramesh was missed at slip, off Vettori, when 48.

On the third morning, however, Vettori bowled with flair, accuracy and craft, while the seamers kept the batsmen on a tight rein. Run-getting was reduced to a crawl, but the contest was always absorbing. He removed Tendulkar and Ganguly with successive balls, though an over apart, and soon afterwards ended a tidy three and a quarter hours by Dravid. A frustrated Tendulkar, who scored 15 off 54 balls, holed out; a ball that "stopped" did for Ganguly; Dravid was defeated byone that turned to take the edge. India were still behind at this stage, albeit by a single run, but eventually led by 74.

The match seemed nicely poised, but not for long. In the 14 overs left on the third day, Kumble captured three New Zealand wickets, including his 250th in Tests. Night-watchman Nash lasted just one ball. Next morning two more wickets fell in the first five overs while the total reached 33, and even honour in defeat looked to be beyond New Zealand.

However, Fleming fought for 21 overs till he met one from Harbhajan Singh that fizzed and took his bat on the way to silly mid-off. Parore and McMillan, who came in at No. 8 with a broken finger, then batted with composure for the seventh wicket until a dubious lbw decision against McMillan ended the struggle. Parore batted on without taking risks until Cairns was out. Kumble, revelling on the fractious pitch, took six for 67 to gain match figures of ten for 134. A target of 82 was too small for India to be undermined by the loss of two wickets in the first four overs. Tendulkar, rushing to 44 in 39 balls, and Gandhi swiftly bridged the gap to put them one up in the series with a day to spare.

Man of the Match: A. Kumble.

© John Wisden & Co