Third Test Match

India v New Zealand 1999-2000

At Ahmedabad, October 29, 30, 31, November 1, 2. Drawn. Toss: India.

Three of the four previous Tests played on the Motera ground had finished decisively, and more than once its pitches had been rated as "poor". This time the pitch was so firm that it produced one of the most boring draws in recent memory. It became slower and slower by the day.

With the dry atmosphere denying the bowlers any assistance from swing, it took New Zealand the best part of two sessions to exploit Ramesh's vulnerability around the off stump, in which time he compiled his second Test hundred. His wicket, captured by Harris with a subtle variation of angle, was their last success until halfway between lunch and tea on the second day when Ganguly, who made 125 (20 fours), failed to get sufficient carry on a lofted on-drive off Astle. By then, he and Tendulkar had added 281 - breaking the Indian fourth-wicket Test record that they themselves had set at 256 against Sri Lanka two years earlier - and Tendulkar was well on his way to his first Test double-century and highest first-class score. Acquiring steadily over eight and a quarter hours, he may have been slow by his own standards, but few loose balls among 343 escaped punishment. He hit 29 fours.

Yet twice the Indian captain might have been out in the 90s late on the first day. Till then he had refrained from going for bouncers but he was unable to resist the short one that Cairns slipped him in his first over with the second new ball. Astle, running back from second slip, narrowly failed to complete what would have been a stunning catch off a top edge. A run later, there was not much daylight between the ball and Tendulkar's outside edge as he played a forcing shot at Nash. The dramatic effect was heightened by Parore dropping the ball. Tendulkar was eventually out shortly after tea on the second day, magnificently held just off the ground at straightish mid-wicket by Nash from a full-blooded pull at Vettori. The left-arm spinner took four wickets, but in 57 overs conceded 200, and India declared at 583, their highest total against New Zealand.

The tourists lost Horne in negotiating the remains of the day, and three more wickets fell on the third morning. A hardy stand of 70 between Fleming and Astle halted the collapse, and it was a gem of a reverse-swinging ball by Srinath that took Fleming's edge. Astle, batting with immense concentration yet missing no scoring opportunity, stayed until the close, but next morning he met a deadly out-swinger from Venkatesh Prasad before he had his eye in against the new ball. He was seventh out, but the recovery was sustained, Cairns remaining at the heart of it with 72 in four hours. New Zealand's innings lasted 55 minutes beyond lunch, which was long enough to persuade Tendulkar to rest his bowlers before mounting another assault.

India, 275 ahead, increased their lead to 423 with a rush of merry batting that brought up 100 in 93 minutes. Tendulkar declared with time for 13 overs that evening, but Horne and Stead, who had come from New Zealand to replace the injured McMillan, put on 131 in 55 overs before falling in the space of seven balls. These reverses proved to be a minor tremor: Spearman and Fleming shut the door in India's face with an unbroken stand of 121.

© John Wisden & Co