Clock back to 2002, India arrived in New Zealand for two Tests and seven one-day internationals with a team that was considered a terrific arsenal. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virendra Shewag, Sourav Ganguly, you name them and you will find that each and every player came with his own success story in alien conditions.
However, in the first Test at the Basin Reserve, the host countered this line-up by preparing green pitches with some moisture to assist its pacers. Then New Zealand skipper, Stephen Fleming, won the toss and inserted the visitors to bat first in the breezy hour of the Basin Reserve.
Every batsman in the world knows how difficult it is to bat in the first hour of the first session of the test cricket; and when you see Shane Bond, Daryl Tuffey, Jacob Oram, and Scott Styris steaming in New Zealand conditions, you know that a massacre was bound to happen. Three wickets apiece for Bond and Styris and two each for Tuffey and Oram sealed India’s fate in the first innings with a paltry score of 161 in 58.4 overs.
Then while batting second, Mark Richardson’s 89 helped the Blackcaps as they took a healthy lead of 86-run. Only Sachin Tendulkar with a score of 51 off 74 balls stood tall for India in their second innings of 121. Yet again, Bond with figures of 4-33, Tuffey with 3-35 and Oram with 3-36 ran riot in the Indian camp. Within a matter of two and a half days, NZ wrapped the match by winning it with 10 wickets.
Cut to present, a lighting Trent Boult and a swinging Tim Southee along with pacy assistance of Colin de Grandhomme were good enough to knock out the Indian Cricket team in a similar fashion as that of 2002. Perhaps, it won’t be wrong if we say that, this test match at the Basin Reserve, more like the ghost of 2002.
India to bat first and crumble first
Just like in 2002, India was put in to bat. Though Virat Kohli initially denied that the toss will not play a significant part yet to his bemusement it did! The green track with the moisture in it and the faulty technique of playing two lines(one while releasing and the other swinging from the track) of the ball played into the hands of the Kane Williamson.
The openers were relatively new and barely had an idea what Tim Southee or Trent Boult was doing. Trent Boult’s angle was impeccable, a delight for a left-arm pacer. His one delivery was coming in, the other was going out and occasionally, one of them staying straight; all this happening from the same landing spot. With Southee, the red cherry looked like a banana. The shape and bent it got while swinging was just perfect. His bowl to dismiss an out-of-depth Prithvi Shaw was an ideal outswing. It swung, landed between the off and middle stump, changed its line and then rattled the top of off stump. Shaw was left searching for it and when it dislodged it bails, he can only see the face of smiling Tim Southee.
Kane Williamson’s 89
Though India lost the match at the later-half of Kiwi’s first innings, however, it was Kane Williamson who saved New Zealand with his astute 89 of 153 balls. It is quite interesting to see how similar Williamson and Richarson’s innings are!
As mentioned, in 2002, it was Mark Richardson who also scored 89 but of 245 balls. Both had to resort to a solid defense before unleashing their strokes. Both saw the wickets falling and a good bowling attack steaming in.
Second-Half dominance and a 10-wicket victory
If the first innings was about swing and bowling out, the second was about targeting the ribs of the Indian batsmen. Like 2002, India tried to counter what they thought as their weakness but this time, New Zealand changed their plan. They optimized the use of short balls to surprise the Indian batsmen.
Like Sachin Tendulkar, Mayank Agarwal looked home, that too in patches, while playing superb Kiwi attack. Just like Bond and Tuffey, Southee and Boult ran havoc in the second innings with both claiming a five and a four-wicket haul respectively. The only thing that was different here apart from the crumble and 10-wicket defeat was the target that India gave. In 2002 it was 36 whereas this time, it was just 9 runs.