India record first Test win in New Zealand in 33 years (Roundup)

March 21st, 2009 - 3:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan Singh Hamilton, March 21 (IANS) Harbhajan Singh’s six wicket haul in the second innings broke India’s 33-year Test jinx in New Zealand as the visitors wrapped up the first cricket Test here Saturday with a 10-wicket win and a day to spare.
India knocked off the required 39 runs in the second innings through Gautam Gambhir (30) and Rahul Dravid (8) after bowling out New Zealand for 279, which included a Brendon McCullum century.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team now has a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, with the second Test slated to begin at Napier Thursday.

The win was India’s first in New Zealand since 1976 that had come under the captaincy of Sunil Gavaskar. It was also Dhoni’s first overseas Test win, and fifth in six Tests. The Indian team will now eye a series win in New Zealand for the first time since 1968, when they also recorded their maiden overseas Test series win.

India could have wrapped the proceedings earlier had McCullum not come in the way. Skipper Dhoni made the mistake of spreading out the field when New Zealand were eight down for 199, still 42 short to make India bat again.

McCullum shepherded the tail, scoring 84 off 135 balls that included 11 fours, and took his chance to reach three figures with only the last man in sight before holing out to V.V.S Laxman off Yuvraj Singh.

India would gain a lot of confidence from the way they played this Test. The bowlers responded beautifully to Dhoni’s call of taking the field. The pace trio of Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel extracted the maximum from the fresh wicket on day one and reduced the Black Caps to 60 for six. Daniel Vettori and Jesse Ryder fought back with centuries but the Kiwis finally folded up for 279.

Sachin Tendulkar, who perhaps is on his last tour here, knocked a majestic 160 to carry India to 520.

The New Zealand batsmen once again lost the plot in the second innings and were three down for 75 Friday, with Munaf removing Kyle Mills with the last ball of the day.

If Indian pacers ruled the roost in the first innings, the turbanator unleashed himself on the New Zealand batsmen Saturday. Harbajan’s figures of 6-63 was his best overseas performance.

India grabbed the wickets of two attacking batsmen Ross Taylor for four and Jesse Ryder 21 before lunch Saturday. They should have consumed Daniel Flynn (67), too, had Dhoni not muffed a caught-behind chance off Harbhajan.

Munaf Patel and Harbhajan claimed a wicket each, but overall the Indian attack was more purposeful with Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma doing their bit as the hosts struggled to score 71 runs off 26 overs in the session.

Flynn began the day on a dashing note, cutting and pulling Zaheer for fours. He then forced Munaf past point for two more and drove Ishant through the covers for another to get to his 50 off 118 balls.

New Zealand, who needed 42 overs to see the hundred on the board, lost Taylor, slashing Munaf straight to Virender Sehwag at point.

Ryder came to the crease with a positive intent and his first scoring stroke could have ended up as a catch to Harbhajan in the covers. He continued in the same vein to pull Zaheer for a four and a six.

The first innings century-maker was beaten on the defence by a beauty from Harbhajan and it was an easy leg before decision for umpire Simon Taufel, the ball striking the back leg.

The Kiwis lost three quick wickets after lunch, all taken by Harbhajan Singh.

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