Like in most venues away from home, India do not have a pleasing record at the Basin Reserve in Wellington as well. They have played six Tests at the venue and have lost four of them. The last time the two teams met at the venue was in 2009; the Test ended in a draw. Interestingly, India’s only victory at the venue came during their maiden appearance at the stadium back in 1968. Here’s a recap of that memorable Test.
India vs New Zealand: February 29-March 4 1968
India: S Abid Ali, FM Engineer (wk), AL Wadekar, RF Surti, Nawab of Pataudi jnr (captain), CG Borde, ML Jaisimha, RG Nadkarni, V Subramanya, EAS Prasanna and BS Bedi
New Zealand: GT Dowling (captain), BAG Murray, BE Congdon, MG Burgess, K Thomson, V Pollard, BR Taylor, RC Motz, RO Collinge, JC Alabaster and RI Harford (wk)
Toss: New Zealand won the toss and chose to bat
Having decided to bat first, the hosts would have been hoping to put up a decent score. However, India’s excellent bowling ensured that the Kiwis were restricted to an extremely low score. 186 was all New Zealand managed as they were bowled out in 89.2 overs. Erapalli Prasanna was the star of the show for India as he spun a web around the Kiwi batsmen with figures of 5 for 32. He was excellently supported by Rusi Surti, who grabbed three wickets. Mark Burgess was the only Kiwi batsman who crossed fifty, making a painstaking 66.
India’s reply to New Zealand’s low score was competent. They ended up making 327, Ajit Wadekar starring with a wonderful knock of 143. In what was undoubtedly one of his best knocks ever, Wadekar ended up hitting 12 fours. Disappointingly for India, the rest of the batsmen could not do much. Engineer made 44 before being run out, skipper Pataudi contributed 30 while lower order bat Subramanya was unbeaten on 32.
In spite of a mixed batting effort, India gained a significant first-innings lead, and it helped their bowlers put the Kiwis under immense pressure in the second innings. India’s bowling was excellent for a second time in a row as the Kiwis were bundled out for 199. Bapu Nadkarni was India’s best bowler this time with figures of 6 for 43. Prasanna added three wickets to his first innings five-for. Burgess got a half-century in the second innings as well while Bev Congdon got 51.
The excellent bowling effort meant India needed only 59 to win the Test. Syed Abid Ali’s quick 36 took India to a memorable win. India chased down the target in 13.3 overs with eight wickets in hand. India went on to win the series 3-1.
--By A Cricket Analyst