Yesterday's five-wicket defeat to India completed New Zealand’s hat-trick of Test losses in Bangalore.
In 1995, Mohammed Azharuddin’s India won by eight wickets and in the 1988 Test, Dilip Vengsarkar’s team trounced John Wright’s Kiwis by 172 runs.
The last Test will go down as a memorable win for India considering it was a tough run chase, but cricket aficionados will also remember the game in 1988 for different reasons: Richard Hadlee edging past Ian Botham to become the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket and the stomach bug which afflicted five New Zealand players including Hadlee and the man who caught Arun Lal to give the bowling legend his world record 374th wicket – Chris Kuggeleijn.
Hadlee and Kuggeleijn watched a section of the third day’s play from their hotel room and just when Ian Smith and Ewen Chatfield got together to help save New Zealand the ignominy of the follow-on, skipper Wright called Hadlee in his room and requested him to return to the Chinnaswamy Stadium to bat.
Umpire Piloo Reporter recalled feeling very sorry for the ill Hadlee, who he had obliged with the ball that claimed the world record wicket on the first day of the Test.
“Hadlee had requested for the ball and I remember getting out of our room after play and walking up their dressing room to handover the ball. He appreciated the gesture and I still have that photograph. On that third day, he couldn’t walk, let alone bat, but managed to stay unbeaten on one at stumps,” said Reporter.
After the rest day, New Zealand resumed their innings at 145 for six, but added 44 runs before being bowled out. The follow-on had been avoided and Wright’s words (‘There’s a good chance of avoiding the follow-on) to Hadlee over the phone on the third day seemed prophetic.
Wright was a worried man when he led his team to tackle the Indian batsmen for the second time in the Test. Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Arun Lal and Navjot Singh Sidhu feasted on the three-man bowling attack comprising Chatfield, Evan Gray and John Bracewell). As many as five substitutes were on the field. According to Hadlee, in his book Rhythm and Swing, the five were — reserve players Tony Blain, Danny Morrison, Bert Vance as well as captain-turned-commentator Jeremy Coney and television journalist Ken Nicholson.
Reporter remembered a conversation with Coney which went like this:
Reporter: This over is taking too long to be completed.
Coney: We are just about managing to stand and that’s a great thing.
India declared at 141 for one, setting New Zealand a 337-run target. Hadlee called it “one of the most courageous days in New Zealand cricket.” Hadlee wrote about what Coney said while fielding: “I stood in the slips and looked at the off-side field — and none of us were selected in the side.”
Reporter reckoned Nicholson was the best fielder on show and the crowd applauded wholesomely whenever he got hold of the ball.
Narendra Hirwani (6-59) and Arshad Ayub (4-53) bowled New Zealand out for 164 and one of Hadlee’s most cherished Test matches ended up in defeat for New Zealand’s greatest match-winner.
So much for cricket being kind to legends.
Richard Hadlee’s book Rhythm and Swing was published by Moa.