India taste Test win in NZ after 33 years
India broke a 33-year drought when a six-wicket haul by Harbhajan Singh spun them to a 10-wicket victory over New Zealand in the first Test in Hamilton today. Harbhajan's 6-63 wizardry, following an iconic 160 by Sachin Tendulkar, formed the cornerstone of India's first Test success in New Zealand since 1976. Sachin Tendulkar was declared Man of the match. India lead the three Test series 1-0. Full Scorecard | Special: The Kiwi Challenge | See pics | Listen to podcastcricket Updated: Mar 21, 2009 19:46 IST
India broke a 33-year drought when a six-wicket haul by Harbhajan Singh spun them to a 10-wicket victory over New Zealand in the first Test in Hamilton on Saturday.
Harbhajan's 6-63 wizardry, following an iconic 160 by Sachin Tendulkar, formed the cornerstone of India's first Test success in New Zealand since 1976.
They wrapped the game up with more than a day to spare after New Zealand were all out in their second innings for 279, and India knocked off the required 39 runs in 5.2 overs.
"It was a very special win because of a couple of players. Sachin getting a big hundred, Harbhajan getting his five wickets," said Indian captain Mahendra Singh Donhi."It's great to play with Sachin. Whenever he scores those big hundreds you can't see anything better. I don't think there were any bad deliveries that weren't fetched for four.
"And Harbhajan proved a point why he is among the best and got us important wickets at the right time," he said, adding the next target was to win a series in New Zealand for the first time in 40 years.
A disappointed New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori admitted his side had been outplayed and would need a dramatic improvement to save the series.
"In every aspect India showed us how to do it in this Test match," he said.Brendon McCullum kept the Test alive longer than expected with a fighting 84 at the New Zealand tail, but it had been a lopsided match from day one when the hosts' top order crashed to six wickets for just 60 runs on a benign wicket.
That highlighted the huge gulf in Test experience between the sides where India's top six batsmen boast a combined 502 Tests between them, compared to 54 for New Zealand.
The hosts went into the fourth day at 75-3, fighting for survival after India had posted 520 in their first innings for a 241 run lead.
On a pitch which offered minimal turn, Harbhajan had India on the verge of victory midway through the middle session when New Zealand were seven for 161.However, McCullum had other ideas, delaying the inevitable with a 38-run partnership with Vettori for the eighth wicket and 76 with Iain O'Brien for the ninth.
In doing so he ensured India would have to bat again and spared New Zealand the embarrassment of an innings defeat.
After New Zealand's recognised batsmen had failed in the first innings, they needed to produce substantial performances in their second turn at bat.
But only Daniel Flynn offered any serious resistance, atoning in some way for his earlier dropping of Tendulkar when the Indian master batsman was 13 runs into what became 160.
Brought to the crease after Tim McIntosh fell on the third ball of the innings, Flynn stood defiant in the middle for nearly five hours and faced 183 deliveries for his 67.
He survived one chance on 55 when dropped by wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni off Harbhajan.
But the relief was short-lived as he only added 12 runs before the wily spinner had the final say with a bat-pad catch to Gautam Gambhir nine overs after lunch.New Zealand had lost the wickets of Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder before lunch.
Taylor laboured for an hour to reach four when he ran out of patience and slashed at a short, rising delivery from Munaf Patel and was caught in the gully by Virender Sehwag.
First innings centurion Ryder attempted to knock the confidence out of the Indians, belting a six and a four off a Zaheer Kahn over.
This only hastened the introduction of spin, and the arrival of Harbhajan hastened the fall of wickets.
In his second over Harbhajan had Ryder trapped leg before wicket for 21 and he followed with the dismissals of Franklin (14), Flynn, Vettori (21) and O'Brien (14).
It was the 23rd time the off-spinner had claimed a five-wicket bag and took his career total to 321 dismissals.
But it was Yuvraj Singh who ended the New Zealand innings with a quicker ball to McCullum which was top-edged to VVS Laxman at short fine-leg and his defiant 168-minute stand was over.
Gambhir, not out 30, and Rahul Dravid with eight then wasted no time wrapping up the match.
The second Test starts in Napier on Thursday.
First Published: Mar 21, 2009 04:04 IST