Second Test Match

New Zealand v India

At Hamilton, December 19, 20, 21, 22, 2002. New Zealand won by four wickets. Toss: New Zealand.

If the game at Wellington ended with indecent haste, this one had even less time for niceties. Never before in 1,632 Tests had both sides been dismissed for under 100 in their first innings; by the time New Zealand scraped home on the fourth afternoon of another rain-soaked match and sealed a 2-0 series win, there had been just 176 overs - nearly 21 fewer than in the First Test. Like the blade of the helicopter that hovered over the ground on the second morning in an attempt to blow away the damp, the cricket was fast, furious and strangely compelling.

Torrential downpours had wreaked havoc with the groundsman's preparations and, when the game finally got under way at 4.30 on day two, the excessive sideways movement sowed doubt in the batsmen's minds and turned run-making into Russian roulette. It was Ganguly's misfortune to lose another crucial toss against an unchanged New Zealand side still buzzing after their walkover at Wellington. For India, Yohannan replaced Agarkar.

The Indian innings was a gruesome catalogue of playing and missing, groping and hoping, with the giant Tuffey an unerring destroyer. By the time he conceded his first run, from his 39th delivery, he had disposed of Bangar and Tendulkar, both trapped in the slips. When Ganguly and Dravid followed, Tuffey had an eye-catching four for eight from eight overs and India were an eye-watering 40 for five.

Bond returned to bowl the gritty Laxman, then got his own back on Harbhajan Singh, who had sliced, skewed and slogged his way to 20 in nine balls, which in the circumstances seemed as good a way to bat as any. Oram yorked Zaheer Khan and India staggered off at 92 for eight. Next morning, they lasted seven more balls.

In reply, Vincent soon nicked Zaheer to slip, but New Zealand were chugging along at 39 for one when the wheels fell off. Richardson's leave-alone for once proved fatal, and when Nehra removed McMillan and Astle in a single over it was 48 for four. Fleming, possibly distracted by a long delay caused by a fidgety spectator next to the sightscreen, chipped a simple return catch, Harbhajan struck twice in an over, and the incisive Zaheer polished things off to finish with a five-for for the second match running,

After that, only a flashy cameo from Sehwag, who creamed 25 in 18 balls, delayed New Zealand, and Oram docked the tail to leave a target of 160. Twenty-two wickets had fallen in the day - a number matched only once in the previous 50 years of Tests - and it would have been 23 had Bangar not dropped a sitter at short leg before Vincent had scored.

But New Zealand got to the close unscathed. At 8.30 the following morning, their batsmen were studiously honing their techniques in the nets. At 89 for two, with the runs flowing, their diligence was paying off, but Nehra weighed in once more with two quick wickets and Patel pulled off a miraculous leg-side catch to send back Astle and bring a spellbound crowd to life. When Styris edged a cut off Harbhajan, New Zealand needed 24 more with four wickets left. However, Oram kept his cool, and the local boy Hart shovelled the winning single to fine leg to provoke a minor eruption from an enthralled crowd. Epics don't come much shorter.

Man of the Match: D. R. Tuffey.

© John Wisden & Co