Third Test Match


At Auckland, March 13, 14, 15, 17, 18. Drawn. With the pitch dry and brown, New Zealand were persuaded to play a specialist spinner for the first time in the series. They called on off-spinner John Bracewell, while India included all three of their spinners. Gavaskar's continued luck with the toss earned India the advantage of bowling last on a turning pitch, but it was offset by the big lead New Zealand took in the first innings.

India, batting indifferently, would not have survived the first day had Kirmani and Yadav, who put on 105 for the ninth wicket, not both been reprieved in the early stages of their partnership. At lunch on the first day, India were 64 for four and only the phlegmatic Chauhan had so far shown any defiance. Although the stand between Kirmani and Yadav had to contend with the second new ball, it endured until midway through the second morning when Yadav was caught at cover driving at Bracewell. Bracewell's haul, four for 61, and the extensive use made of him showed that the pitch was already yielding turn.

New Zealand lost Edgar without a run on the board, but Wright and Reid did more than repair the damage, putting on 148 for the second wicket. Reid's innings was faultless, but there were two close calls on Wright. At 16, he survived a vehement appeal for a catch at the wicket off Doshi, and at 47 he might have been stumped off Shastri who, however, did not bowl too well that day. Nor did Yadav, though that was less surprising as he had been out of the game for a month. Doshi was the most testing of the spinners.

Reid, whose 74 took four and a half hours, did not last long on the third morning. Glancing Shastri, he was caught at backward short-leg and Howarth was out without scoring to a fine catch at forward short-leg. New Zealand then were 152 for three, but they were 13 runs ahead before India broke through again, ending the marathon of Wright, who made 110, his first century in seventeen Tests, in 460 minutes off 434 balls, with one 6 and ten 4s. He and Coney, who used his long reach to play the spinners with ease, put on 99 for the fourth wicket from 47 overs. While Shastri was the most successful bowler, Doshi's figures of 69-34-79-2 were remarkable for the respect he commanded.

Being one down in the series, India had to make the running, but when they batted again, only Gavaskar could assert himself. Chauhan contributed only 7 to an opening stand of 43; Srinivasan, promoted in the batting order to provide impetus, played 30 balls while moving from 1 to 2. Gavaskar, in the circumstances, lost his rhythm and got out at 50, playing an adventurous shot. Viswanath, in his 71st consecutive Test appearance, played neatly for his 46, which contained six 4s, but it was left to Patil, who made 57 (one 6 and eight 4s) and Kapil Dev to give the innings momentum. Vengsarkar, bereft of confidence, plodded on until the end to remain not out with 52, which took him a little more than four hours.

On the pitch where Bracewell had taken five for 75, New Zealand were left needing 157 to win in 243 minutes, time that was reduced by twenty minutes because of a stoppage for rain at 26 for one. Edgar was again quickly out and Wright should have gone before the break for rain, Vengsarkar missing him at silly point off Doshi. After tea New Zealand felt secure enough to make a bid for victory, with Edwards leading the charge, but they did not sustain their effort. When Edwards and Hadlee, both promoted in the batting order to attack, were out in rapid succession, the hunt was called off, much to the vociferous annoyance of their supporters. Following a flutter of excitement when Doshi dismissed Howarth and Reid in the fourteenth and sixteenth overs of the last hour, an appeal against the light was upheld.

Wright was named as Man of the Match for New Zealand, and Shastri for India, while Reid was named Man of the Series.

© John Wisden & Co