Tour and tournament reports

The New Zealanders in India, 1995-96

Whoever thought up the idea of this Test series, played during the monsoon months, must have regretted it

15-Apr-1997
Whoever thought up the idea of this Test series, played during the monsoon months, must have regretted it. Meant to fill a gap before the World Cup, it proved such a damp squib that the Indian cricket board was forced to rethink its future scheduling of international cricket. The choice of Test venues - Bangalore, Madras and Cuttack - was questionable because all three are susceptible to the north-east monsoon which sweeps the southern half of the Indian peninsula in October and November. India's three-day victory in the First Test at Bangalore was a blessing; it rained heavily the day after. The Madras game suffered the dubious distinction of becoming the shortest Test in terms of overs bowled - 71 - in Indian history. Cuttack was not much better.
India's win at Bangalore was thus decisive and preserved their record of not losing a Test series at home since 1986-87, when they were beaten at the same venue by Imran Khan's Pakistan. Their captain, Mohammad Azharuddin, played a key role with a classy 87 in the first innings, further consolidating his position; he had already won more Tests than any of his predecessors. Jadeja, whose three previous Tests were all in South Africa in 1992-93, staked his claim to the opener's spot with two forceful half-centuries. Of the bowlers, seamer Javagal Srinath and spinner Anil Kumble, both fresh from stints in the English County Championship, were the chief destroyers. With his very first wicket, Kumble had touched the landmark of 100 Test Wickets in his 21st game, while his fellow wrist-spinner, Narendra Hirwani, livened up the final day of the series with an enticing spell of six for 59. His successful come-back, after five years, furthered the growing international fashion for leg-spin.
The Kiwis had a new coach, Glenn Turner, and a new captain, wicket-keeper Lee Germon, appointed when Ken Rutherford became one of the many scapegoats for New Zealand's dismal centenary season. Germon had played only one limited-overs international and no Tests but provided most of his team's resistance with the bat at Bangalore. Despite that disappointing start, the New Zealanders did show a positive attitude to the tour until a busy one-day schedule of six matches in 15 days took its toll on fitness and discipline. One plus was the batting of Nathan Astle, who blossomed with confidence in those games. But the tour was to mark the end of the international career of Martin Crowe, New Zealand's batting star for the past decade. After a final hundred in the one-day series, he flew home before the last match saying that his knee, which had hampered him for the past few years, would take no more.
After the fiasco of the Tests, the one-day international series proved more popular, especially since New Zealand began with a win and were level before the sixth and final scheduled match (the third was abandoned, due to more rain). By then, they were weakened by the loss of Crowe, and India comfortably extended their unbeaten run in home one-day tournaments to five years. But the penultimate game at Nagpur was marred by tragedy, when a wall collapsed in the lunch interval; nine spectators died and 50 were injured.

NEW ZEALAND TOURING PARTY

L. K. Germon (Canterbury) (captain), C. L. Cairns (Canterbury), M. D. Crowe (Wellington), S. B. Doull (Northern Districts), S. P. Fleming (Canterbury), A. J. Gale (Otago), M. J. Greatbatch (Central Districts), M. J. Haslam (Auckland), D. K. Morrison (Auckland), D. J. Nash (Northern Districts), A. C. Parore (Northern Districts), S. A. Thomson (Northern Districts), R. G. Twose (Wellington), B. A. Young (Northern Districts).
Haslam replaced D. N. Patel (Auckland) who withdrew with an Achilles tendon injury. N. J. Astle (Canterbury) and G. R. Larsen (Wellington) replaced Gale and Hart for the one-day internationals.
Manager: G. D. Alabaster. Coach: G. M. Turner.

NEW ZEALAND TOUR RESULTS

Test matches - Played 3: Lost 1, Drawn 2.
First-class matches - Played 6: Lost 1, Drawn 5.
Loss - India.
Draws - India (2); Board President's XI, Bombay, Indian Colts XI.
One-day internationals - Played 5: Won 2, Lost 3, Abandoned 1.