New Zealand is pristine, the grass banks, tents, camps, and people cheering along as they watch cricket. The memories are vivid, from the towering presence of Richard Hadlee, to the enamouring Martin Crowe, from the astute Stephen Fleming, to the studious Daniel Vettori, from the brash belligerence of Brendon McCullum, to the calm brilliance of Kane Williamson.
The small island forever punches above its weight, it treats its visitors well, but only off the field, and Indian teams over the years have witnessed ebbs and flows, which is very stark compared to any other country.
1990-91 – Kapil Dev ran up, hurled a full ball, Danny Morrison was elsewhere and the ball collected the stumps. India’s first win in 7 attempts on New Zealand soil.
And then it paused. India have somehow always managed to find ways to stumble in the country, and on the few instances they have dominated, weather has intervened to thwart all attempts.
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After the aforementioned match, India’s next win came in the 1992 World Cup. In the harsh cold conditions, India froze in the literal sense, conceded matches to West Indies, New Zealand and watched on in hopelessness as rain belted away and prevented them from winning the match against Zimbabwe.
And then in 2002-03 before the World Cup, the house came crashing down all around Sourav Ganguly and team. Green pitches, a fired up hosts, plenty of bruises, deflated prides. The batting order had scored 108, 219, 108, 122, 169/8, 200/9, and 122 in the seven matches, which averages to 15.64 per wicket.
India did win a couple of matches, the maverick Virender Sehwag slammed two tons in the toughest conditions to bat on and India, licking their lips, hopped over to South Africa for the World Cup.
Dhoni’s boys bury the ghost
A similar looking squad with MS Dhoni as the captain and Gary Kirsten as the coach, India were not willing to leave the country without erasing the previous blots and writing a new chapter. Well-oiled ODI machinery rocked up and sealed a series win, the only time an Indian side achieved the feat in the island.
The 2013-14 series was a peculiar one. India fought and had the chance to win the series in the first three matches, as the needed 69 in 46 balls with six wickets in the bag, while in the second they needed 35 in 18 with 5 batsmen in the hut. They blinked, lost both, R Ashwin and R Jadeja played blinders to tie the third match when Brendon McCullum’s men dominated the visitors in the final two to take the series 4-0.
Enigma of New Zealand and India keep finding ways to be flummoxed. It will be Kane vs Kohli, a clash of personalities and the clash of cricketing skills of two very talented sides. Let the games begin.
First Published: Jan 21, 2019 14:39 IST