New Zealand had a lean, frustrating and somewhat unhappy tour of the Indian sub-continent. In separate, three-Test series, they lost two-nil to both Pakistan and India and their only first-class win in nine games on the tour was against the Punjab Cricket Association (in Pakistan).
The hapless tourists had embarked on the trip under the handicap of being below full strength. The most notable among the key players who could not go on the tour was Congdon, always a tough and combative Test match player and one who had achieved success on previous visits to India.
Although he was believed to be bowling below his best, Hedley Howarth too would have been an asset on the turning pitches in India and also the one at Hyderabad, in Pakistan.
Included in the original party was that most worthy wicket-keeper batsman, Ken Wadsworth. But even as the team's composition was announced, Wadsworth carried the dreadful ailment which ended his young life.
Lees, who took Wadsworth's place, strove every bit to fill the void, both with gloves and bat. He was largely responsible for New Zealand staving off defeat in the third Test against Pakistan, at Karachi, and again in the second Test against India, at Kanpur.
Even with the material they eventually had available, New Zealand might have done considerably better had the tour taken place at a time of year when the weather is more temperate, but it was begun in early October, so that it could be squeezed between other commitments, both their own and their hosts'.
Immediately after entertaining New Zealand, Pakistan were due to go on a long twin-tour of Australia and the West Indies; while even as the New Zealanders' last Test in India was in progress, at Madras, M.C.C. were engaged in their opening game, in Poona. Furthermore, New Zealand themselves were due to face Australia at home on their return.
The New Zealanders were far from acclimatised before they went into the series in Pakistan and by the time they could settle down, it was over. When they came to Bombay to confront India, the city was gripped by an unseasonable heat wave. Exhaustion induced by heat and humidity was commonplace and other illnesses were, in the circumstances, inevitable.
The tourists were consistently unlucky with the toss and the sequence of defeats led to that hopeless feeling which, in turn, caused tempers to be lost. The Indian leg of the tour was not free from controversy and displays of bad humour. They were sparked off by the tourists' dissatisfaction with the umpiring.
One recalled at the time that the Indian team had been just as displeased with the umpiring in New Zealand when they were on tour there, earlier in the year. Even the traditionalists ruefully admitted that, in the circumstances, the age of neutral umpires could not be far ahead in some countries.
It was always on the cards that New Zealand's batting would depend heavily on the experience and expertise of the captain and vice-captain, Turner and John Parker, respectively. They did not readily get into stride while in Pakistan. Turner had problems because of injuries and, in fact, he missed the third Test at Karachi.
It was only in the final Test that Parker made a substantial score. Burgess, the side's most senior batsman, was seen to advantage in Pakistan, but did not remain the same force against the spinners in India.
Turner and Parker, however, came into their own in India. Parker made a century in the opening Test and Turner emulated him in the second. Roberts and Anderson gave indications that on a longer tour, with more time to settle, they could have done more justice to their ability.
New Zealand's bowling was inadequate. Not only was Congdon missed, but also Dayle Hadlee, another who had opted out of the tour. His brother, Richard, was fast and hostile at times. But the veteran Collinge looked past his best. Cairns, at fast-medium, was always a gallant trier and dealt India some nasty shocks in the early stages of the last Test.
The spinners, O'Sullivan (left-arm) and Petherick (off-breaks) were large-hearted, persevering and, for the most part, accurate. But they lacked penetration.
In the series against Pakistan, the tourists felt the full weight of the immense batting talent possessed by that country. Of the major batsmen, only Zaheer Abbas, who had just finished such a remarkable season for Gloucestershire, did not partake of the various run-feasts.
Majid Khan, Mushtaq Mohammad, Sadiq Mohammad, Asif Iqbal and Javed Miandad (playing in his first Test series) all enhanced their reputations and their records.
Even on the slow pitches of Pakistan, Sarfraz Nawaz was an effective bowler. Many of New Zealand's wickets, however, fell to Intikhab, Mushtaq and Javed -- perhaps an indication that the art of leg-spin could well enjoy a revival at international level.
The results of the Tests in India made the home side look more worthy than it really was. The Indian batting, in the main, was dependent on Gavaskar and Viswanath. If neither had made runs in any one Test match, India could have been in severe difficulties.
Nevertheless, there was a magnificent display in the first Test by Patel, one which turned the tide in India's favour. Invariably, the Indians seemed to lose their grip when they tried to force the pace and in more than one crisis that came about in these circumstances, they were redeemed by Kirmani. He had a good series with the bat in addition to recovering his wicket-keeping form after a nightmare of a tour in the West Indies, earlier in the year.
To get New Zealand out, the Indians were totally reliant on their spinners, particularly Bedi, who bowled over 200 overs in the three weeks that this series spanned. The heavy burden that Bedi, Chandrasekhar and Venkataraghavan carried left them less fresh and sharp for the series against England, which lay only a fortnight ahead.
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