Ahmedabad: Nathan Astle's patient 103 not only kept New Zealand in the reckoning in the first cricket Test against India in Ahmedabad but also ended the Kiwis' 26-year long drought of no centuries in India. When Astle, who holds the world record for the fastest double hundred in Tests, was stumped by Parthiv Patel off Harbhajan Singh, he had become the first New Zealander to score a hundred in India since Glenn Turner and J M Parker scored a century each on their 1976-77 visit to the subcontinent.
Turner got his hundred in Kanpur while Parker made it in Mumbai in a three-Test series which India won 2-0. "When we sat down for the team meeting before the tour, we thought 26 years was a long time. The top order batsmen were determined that one of us should stick around and get to this three figure mark," said Astle in the post-match press conference. "I just aimed to play my natural game, the idea was to get to 301 so that we could make India bat again," the Kiwi batsman added. "Though it will be a tough task as we have only have two wickets left, I think the tail-enders can manage," said the right-hander.
Astle also did not forget the century he scored in the 1996 World Cup at the same venue. "I have some fond memories of this ground, it is nice to come back to a ground which I know quite well," Astle said. Astle shared a 91-run stand for the fourth wicket with Craig McMillan who made 54 before a reflex catch by Akash Chopra at forward short-leg broke the partnership. "He (McMillan) was the dominant partner. I was trying to collect ones and twos while Craig was very confident and stroked the ball well.
"The way he got out was unfortunate because the Indians' shoulders were drooping but his downfall gave India the confidence and the chance to come back into the match," Astle said. Astle said he was disappointed that he could not carry his bat through the day. "You bat differently in different conditions.
Our aim was to just put the loose deliveries away without being reckless, which was what Craig and I were trying to do. "That's why I was disappointed because I wanted to bat out the whole day," he said. Astle also had a word of praise for Australian Matthew Hayden who on Friday broke the world record for highest individual Test score. Hayden scored 380 against Zimbabwe on the second day of the first Test in Perth, surpassing West Indian Brian Lara's 375 against England at St. John's, Antigua, in 1994. "It is a marvellous effort by him. He is a great player without doubt, he has been among runs since visiting India in 2001. "He deserves every success that comes his way because he is a hard working cricketer."