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Wellington will test Indian cricket prowess

In a match where fortunes ebbed and flowed, the Black Caps held their nerves to beat India by 40 runs at the close of the thrilling first cricket test that concluded at Eden Park on February 9.

Put into bat on a sporting pitch giving equal assistance to batsmen and bowlers, the New Zealand team amassed 503 runs on the back of ‘Man of the Match’ Brendon McCullum’s second highest test match score of 224 runs.

In reply, the Indian battings frailties outside home were exposed again, as the side folded for just 203 runs.

Mumbai’s Rohit Sharma was the top scorer of the Indian team with 72 runs.

Trailing by 301 runs, the Indian bowlers led by the tall and lanky Ishant Sharma (who picked up nine wickets in the match) fought back well, restricting the hosts to only 106 runs in their second innings.

Great chase

India recorded its highest run chase ever and the third highest chase overall in test cricket history to score 406 runs for victory.

Shikhar Dhawan became the second Indian opener after Sunil Gavsakar to score a century in the fourth innings of a test match. He was the top scorer for India with 115 runs.

But his efforts were in vain against the hostile fast bowling of the Black Caps led admirably by Otago’s Neil Wagner, who picked up eight wickets.

This test match was another step forward for Kiwi cricket under the leadership of McCullum and Coach Mike Hesson.

Introspection needed

As both teams head to Wellington for the final test match at the Basin Reserve, India has to do soul searching.

Why did cricket’s economic powerhouse fail to register an overseas test match victory for nearly two and a half years?

Another disappointing show in Wellington would mean a winless trip for a team being called cricket’s bullies for their off-field actions in trying to control operations of the International Cricket council (ICC).

Does the team have it in the players to turn it around?

Wellington holds the answers.

Good reception

ANZ Bank organised a special evening for cricket enthusiasts to meet and greet the Black Caps and the visiting Indian team at Langham Hotel on February 4. The event was organised to honour Cricket and celebrate the unity that sports in general brings to communities and corporate sponsors.

It was literally a ‘different looking’ Indian team in their dapper suits.

Guests were welcomed with a Kapa Haka performance. M S Dhoni and Brendon McCullum, skippers of the Indian and New Zealand teams talked about matters on and off the field.

Indian support

Dhoni acknowledged the stern test given to his side by the Black Caps. He was appreciative of the beautiful Kiwi grounds and the breath-taking scenery of Aotearoa.

He acknowledged the tremendous support his team had received from people of Indian origin on this tour and said that he and other players felt as though they were playing a match in India.

McCullum thanked the Indian team and all fans for making this a successful cricketing series.

The event included a scintillating Bhangra performance. After the formal function ended, the Black caps stayed back for a long time interacting with the gathering. Their humility and accessibility was outstanding.

There was genuine warmth in their conversations and the Black Caps were happy that people followed the team’s performances closely.

The Indian team disappointed guests by being aloof and leaving the function early.

The event however proved that the Indian cricket team is a big draw card in New Zealand, as indeed it is elsewhere in the world.

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2. ANZ Chief Executive David Hisco with Brendon McCullum and M S Dhoni

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