On a Kanpur's bowler-friendly track, the team that possessed an Anil Kumble emerged triumphant. India defeated New Zealand by eight wickets with an hour and a day to spare in the second of the three-Test Series on Monday.
The first Test at Mohali was a drawn game, and, the final match will be played in Ahmedabad from Oct 29 to Nov 2. The Kanpur Test will be remembered for the manner in which the bowlers kept the batsmen guessing for most part.
The psychological impact of a "specially prepared" pitch was certainly severe on the batsmen almost throughout. The glorious moments for the batsmen came on the second day when India's openers Sadagopan Ramesh and Debang Gandhi put on 162 runs for their side's first innings first wicket. Then Rahul Dravid, a batsman of the classical mould, made 48.
There was of course some admirable effort from the New Zealand's batsmen of the bottom-half. These apart the Kanpur Test must be dubbed as a bowler's Test. And Anil Kumble was the King. India's first innings lead of 74 runs was gained about an hour before the close of play on the third day. Had this Test been played on a sportive pitch, that first innings lead would not have carried any threat to the rival team. But here in Kanpur, against quality bowlers like Kumble and Srinath ably supported by diligent spinners like Joshi and Harbhajan Singh, New Zealand must have been apprehensive.
And when Kumble rattled the Kiwis on Sunday evening (17 for three) it became clear that the game was in India's pocket. The Indian bowlers had to wait almost till the tea interval to bag New Zealand's last wicket (155 all out in 66.5 overs). The credit for prolonging the innings should go to a plucky trio of Stephen Fleming (31), Adam Parore (48) and Craig McMillan (31). That left India with a victory target of 82 runs. Like a dying flame, New Zealand 's fighting qualities glowed for all to see. Chris Cairns and Dion Nash sent back Sadagopan Ramesh and Rahul Dravid by the fourth over (seven runs for two wickets).
India skipper Sachin Tendulkar entered and put out the flame, so to say, in his inimitable style (44 not out in 39 balls with eight fours). An inspired Debang Gandhi (31 not out in 56 balls with five fours) hit the winning stroke.