21 Mar : Harbhajan Singh scalped six wickets to guide India to their first Test triumph on New Zealand soil in 33 years as the visitors spanked the Kiwis by 10 wickets in the first cricket Test to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series in Hamilton on Saturday.
The Indian off-spinner produced a devastating spell to rip through the New Zealand middle-order with figures of six for 63 as the home team folded up for 279 in their second innings.
Brendon McCullum (84) and Daniel Flynn (67) stood bravely amid the ruins as the Kiwis just about managed to avoid the ignominy of an innings defeat, taking a 38-run lead.
The Indians rattled up the required runs in 5.2 overs to wrap the Test, just before close of play, with a full day to spare.The Indian dressing room erupted in joy as Gautam Gambhir (30) scored the winning runs to keep them on course for a historic triumph on New Zealand soil where there last won a series way back in 1968 under the captaincy of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi.
This is India’s first Test win in Kiwi backyard since their eight-wicket win at Auckland in 1976 when the three match-series was drawn 1-1.The two teams will now travel to Napier for the second Test, beginning 26th March.
McCullum and Iain O’Brien (14) frustrated India with their gritty 76-run partnership for the ninth wicket which proved crucial in saving defeat by an innings margin.New Zealand were at 199 for 8, still needing 43 to make India bat again, but McCullum braved the odds with his pugnacious knock, his 13th half century, taking him past 2000 runs in Test cricket.
O’Brien also showed gumption and character while frustrating the Indians for 100 minutes but eventually fell to Harbhajan when gobbled up by VVS Laxman at silly point.
Set a feeble target of 39 to win, India romped home with Gambhir and Rahul Dravid (8) opening in place of Sehwag polishing off the runs.
The architect of India’s emphatic victory today was Harbhajan, who grabbed his 23rd five-wicket haul and also his best overseas figures.
The Kiwis began the day on a stoic note with the left-handed Flynn and Ross Taylor determined to spend time in the middle.
The twosome raised hopes of a Kiwi fightback in the first hour with their resilience before Taylor slashed Munaf Patel straight to Virender Sehwag at gully.
Jesse Ryder, perhaps emboldened by his maiden Test hundred in the first innings, began on an aggressive note, hitting Patel uppishly through covers and followed it up with robust pull shots off Zaheer Khan.
Brief Scores: New Zealand 1st innings: 279 all out
India 1st innings: 520 all out
New Zealand 2nd innings: 279 all out.
India 2nd innings: 39 for no loss (Gautam Gambhir 30 not out, Rahul Darvid 8 not out.