Hyderabad has hosted four Tests since 1955-56 � all involving the Kiwis

Aug 22, 2012, 08:01 IST | A Correspondent

City of Nawabs has hosted four Tests since 1955-56 � all involving the Kiwis. As H'bad gears up to play host in the opening battle tomorrow, MiD DAY turns back the clock

New Zealand and India resume their cricketing rivalry in Hyderabad tomorrow with the Kiwis looking to win their first Test series in India. Victory is near impossible considering the strength of the visitors, who will be without their most experienced campaigner Daniel Vettori — out of action through a groin injury.

Interestingly, Hyderabad has hosted four Tests since its ‘debut’ in the 1955-56 season and all four have involved New Zealand. The Kiwis do have a strong Hyderabadi connection!

India’s monumental structure — Charminar in Hyderabad. Pic/MiD DAY Archives

While the hosts enjoy a 1-0 win-loss record in four Tests played in this city, the Kiwis came close to winning the 1969-70 Test. Will Test No 5 prove lucky for New Zealand? Over to the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal.

MiD DAY looks back at the four Hyderabad Tests.

The first Test between the two countries at the Lal Bahadur Stadium (formerly known as Fateh Maidan) was an eventful one. The newly laid turf proved to be a perfect batting surface as India piled on their then highest Test total (498 for four decl) with Polly Umrigar (223) becoming the first Indian to score a double century. Umrigar enjoyed a record third-wicket partnership (238 runs) with Vijay Manjrekar (118) and a series record for the fourth-wicket (171 runs) with debutant Kripal Singh. Kripal became the second Indian to score a century in his first Test innings. John Hayes was the most successful New Zealand bowler claimed three for 91 in 26 overs in the first innings.

India’s bowlers managed to deliver an equally exceptional performance as their batters. Subhash Gupte was wrecker-in-chief, claiming seven for 128 in 76.4 to dismiss the Kiwis for 326 and enforce the follow-on.

John Guy was the only batsman who managed to stay for a long period of time in the middle, scored 102. The Kiwis in their second essay began strongly, losing only two wickets for 212 with opener Bert Sutcliffe scoring an unbeaten 137 to draw the Test.

It was a golden chance for New Zealand to register their first Test victory in India, but the match resulted in utter frustration for the visitors. Though India were clearly outplayed, rain, riots, and an umpiring row provided much drama. Skipper Graham Dowling (42) and Bruce Murray (80) enjoyed a hundred plus opening stand, but post lunch, they slumped to 181 for nine at close on Day One. Erapalli Prasanna claimed five for 51.

Day Two was washed out by rain. Ideally, the grass on the pitch should have been cut on the second day, but the umpires instructed the groundsman to cut it on the third morning. The New Zealand skipper, quite rightly, didn’t allow the umpires’ error to be compounded, as India had to bat on an uncut pitch.

Expectedly, the hosts were bowled out for 89 — their lowest total in a Test at Hyderabad. Dayle Hadlee and Bob Cunis picked four and three wickets respectively. Bishan Singh Bedi and S Venkataraghavan batted bravely to put up 40 for the last wicket. But a young fan, who ran on to the field to congratulate the duo, was roughed up by a security man which provoked riot in the stadium. No play was possible thereafter as New Zealand lost crucial 30 minutes of play. The Kiwis declared at 175-8 at the end of the fourth day, thus giving India five-and-a-half hours to chase 268. India started off poorly, losing seven wickets for 66.

However, there was a heavy downpour for around 30 minutes with only two-and-a-half hours play remaining on the final day. No real effort was made to resume play, in spite of sunshine that followed the downpour. It was perhaps for the first time in history that a Test captain (Dowling) was on the field, helping to get the ground back in shape. The match was abandoned 20 minutes before schedule as a result Kiwis were just three wickets away from a
historic victory.

New Zealand succumbed to India’s spin attack in the series-deciding third Test at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium. Arshad Ayub, playing on his home ground, caused early damage to end up with 4-55 and Narendra Hirwani claiming 2-51 to restrict the Kiwis to 254 in the first innings.

The visitors could have folded up early had it not been for some poor catching by the Indians. Mark Greatbatch (90) and Ian Smith (79) helped the visitors recover and posted a respectable total.

Krishnamachari Srikkanth punctuated India’s reply with his third half-century of the series. Once he departed, Mohammed Azharuddin and Ravi Shastri steadied the ship with some mature batting. Azharuddin was in splendid touch, scoring a valuable 81. After Shastri (42) fell early on the third day, Kapil Dev lent good support to Azharuddin with 40 off 48 balls. India ultimately finished 104 runs ahead of the visitors.

The Kiwis started pathetically and folded up for 124 to set a 21-run target. Hirwani, Ayub and Kapil took three wickets each in the second innings. Srikkanth made most of the runs required for victory to register a comfortable 10-wicket win.

The two teams clashed in Hyderabad after more than two decades at the newly-built Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal. Electing to bat, New Zealand opener Timothy McIntosh ensured a solid start with his 102. Martin Guptill and Jesse Ryder chipped in with 85 and 70 respectively to post 350 in the first innings.

Pacer Zaheer Khan and offie Harbhajan Singh claimed four wickets each. Indian openers Virender Sehwag (96) and Gautam Gambhir (54) provided a strong reply, putting on 160 for the first wicket.

While local hero VVS Laxman scored a valuable 74 in the middle, Harbhajan surprised everyone with an unbeaten 111 — his maiden Test century — to help India post a mammoth 472.

New Zealand’s reply was equally strong with opener Brendon McCullum hitting a double ton (225). Kiwis declared at 448-8 as the match headed towards a tame draw. Sehwag scored 54 in as many balls. 

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