Anil Kumble and Sunil Joshi had struck an encouraging note. These two main spinners of the India team for the second Test match against New Zealand (Oct 22 to 26) touched top form in Bangalore to carve out a seven-wicket win for Karnataka, the national champion in a three-day match against the touring New Zealanders (Oct 17 to 19).
The passive role played by the Indian bowlers in the first Test in Mohali (Oct 10 to 14) must have certainly upset the morale of the team which looked certain to wrap up that Test on the fifth and final day. Full marks for Stephen Fleming and his men for forcing an honorable draw.
Their first Test display had thus given the Kiwis a refreshing status at the very start of this tour. Before the start of the Bangalore match, Kapil Dev, the new Indian cricket coach, directed the top bowlers (Javagal Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad, Kumble and Joshi) not to go "flat out" in the three-day game so as to get mentally and physically ready for the second Test in Kanpur. Srianth and Prasad were rested.
Kumble and Joshi bowled only in brief spells on the first day. Kumble's spell read 9-1-20-0 and that of Joshi 10-4-28-0. However, medium pacer Mansoor Ali Khan (3 for 56), Dodda Ganesh (1 for 44) and Anand Yalvigi (1 for54) bowled their hearts out.
The touring side, thanks to a century by skipper Fleming and a responsible innings of 58 by Nathan Astle recovered to a closing score of 249 for six from a pathetic 27 for four. New Zealand declared its innings closed at that opening day's score. Led by India's latest find Vijay Bharadwaj, who made 96, the home team raced to a good total of 269 for nine by the close on the second day.
Tilak Naidu, an enterprising wicket keeper cum batsman shone with a fine knock of 52. This former junior international had come in place of the regular wicket keeper Siraguppi who was injured. Kumble declared the home team innings at that score (a first innings lead of 20 runs).
The overnight rain had delayed the start on the final day by 45 minutes. Yet the two declarations had given the needed life and character to this three-day affair. A typical one-day situation could be created. That was the expectations of the crowd and it turned out to be so.
Dodda Ganesh, a lion-hearted paceman, who did not play international cricket since 1997, was Karnataka's hero on the final day. He revealed his ability to maintain a superb line and length as never before and the ardent followers of state cricket were pleasantly surprised at Ganesh's appraoch-work in this match. This 24-year-old lad has been showing a remarkable degree of improvement to his bowling methods right through the 1998-99 season. And on Oct 19 he performed like a champion (14-3-41-3). Thanks to Ganesh's grand effort the entire team got inspired.
Brilliant catches were taken while the overall fielding standard of the home team could be rated as "international". Suddenly a rosy situation had emerged and Kumble must have smelt victory. He and Joshi mesmerised the New Zealand batsmen and soon the visiting side was bundled out for 105 runs. Kumble (10-5-9-2) and Joshi (15.5-7-17-4) followed Kapil Dev's instruction and at the same time led Karnataka to a historic triumph.
Karnataka hit off the needed runs for the loss of three wickets. Vijay Bharadwaj (33 not out) did bring lot of cheers to the home crowd in his first match in Bangalore after having made the international grade in Nairobi this Sept-Oct.