India-New Zealand Test rivalry has come a long way since Pataudi's men demolished the Kiwis 3-1

India-New Zealand Test rivalry has come a long way since Pataudi’s men demolished the Kiwis 3-1

Team India
Group shot of the India cricket team posed together in 1967. (Photo by Rolls Press/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

The late Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi gets a special mention whenever a discussion comes up on the Test rivalry between India and New Zealand for it was the ‘Tiger’ who had led India to their first overseas series (3-1) victory in 1968 and it had come on New Zealand soil.

The hosts had no answer to Pataudi’s spinners and fell like nine pins after the series was tied at an exciting 1-1 following the second Test. The Kiwis, in fact, had not succeeded to score even a 200 in the last four innings of that series. India had won the third and fourth matches by 8 wickets and 272 runs, respectively.

It was the third overall series between India and New Zealand with the former winning all of them (the first two Test series were played in India in 1955-56 and 1964-65 seasons).

NZ’s first Test victory vs India came in 1980-81:

New Zealand’s first series victory against India in Tests came in 1980-81 when they won a three-match series on their home turf 1-0. Led by Geoff Howarth, New Zealand had beaten Sunil Gavaskar’s India by 62 runs in the opening game to pocket the series as the two other matches had ended in draws.

India, NZ have played 19 Test series so far with India winning 10:

These two teams have so far locked horns in 19 series in Tests with India winning 10 (8 at home besides two memorable series victories overseas) while New Zealand have won five (all at home). The remaining four series ended at levels (two each in either country). Overall, they have played 54 Tests so far with India winning 18, the Kiwis 10 while the remaining 26 were inconclusive. Not a very exciting rivalry for sure.

In 2014, India lost by just 40 runs after conceding a lead of over 300 runs!

However, the last time a Test match between India and New Zealand was an exciting affair. Played at the Eden Park in Auckland in 2013-14 series, India did well to come back after conceding a lead of over 300 runs in the first innings and eventually lost by 40 runs. That Test is known for Brendon McCullum’s 224. On the other hand, the last time India won a Test match/series against New Zealand was at home in 2012 when they won both the games of the series. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was in charge of that side.

Here are some high points of India-NZ Test series:
Team records:

•    India’s highest score 583/7 decl at Ahmedabad in 1999
•    NZ’s highest score 680/8 decl at Wellington in 2014
•    India’s lowest total 81 at Wellington in 1976
•    NZ’s lowest score 94 at Hamilton in 2002
•    India’s biggest win: Innings and 198 runs at Nagpur in 2010
•    NZ’s biggest win: Innings and 36 runs at Wellington in 197I
•    In terms of wickets, both the teams have beaten each other by 10 wickets twice
•    India’s lowest victory: By 60 runs at Mumbai in 1969
•    NZ’s lowest victory: By 40 runs at Auckland in 2014
•    In terms of wickets, NZ’s lowest win is by 4 wickets that came twice (1998 & 2002) while India’s lowest win is also by 5 wickets twice (1968 & 2012)

Individual records:

•    For India, Rahul Dravid (1659) has scored most runs against New Zealand in 15 matches
•    For NZ, Brendon McCullum (1224) has scored most runs against India in 10 matches
•    For India, Vinoo Mankad has the highest individual score (231) against NZ
•    For NZ, Brendon McCullum has highest individual score (302) against India
•    For India, Dravid has scored most hundreds (6) against NZ
•    For NZ, McCullum has scored most hundreds (4) against India
•    For India, Zaheer Khan has scored most number of ducks (5) against NZ
•    For NZ, Paul Wiseman has most number of ducks (4) against India
•    For India, Bishan Singh Bedi has taken most number of wickets (57) against NZ
•    For NZ, Richard Hadlee has taken most number of wickets (64) against India
•    For India, R Ashwin and S Venkataraghavan have taken most number of wickets in Test match (12) against NZ
•    For NZ, Hadlee has most number of wickets in a test match (11) against India
•    Venkataraghavan’s 8 for 72 is India’s best bowling figure against NZ in an innings
•    Hadlee’s 7 for 23 is NZ’s best bowling figure against India in an innings
•    For India, Sachin Tendulkar has played most Tests (24) against NZ
•    For NZ, Daniel Vettori has played most Tests (15) against India
•    For India, MAK Pataudi has led in most Tests (11) against NZ
•    For NZ, Stephen Fleming has led in most matches (9) against India

About the upcoming Test series:

Team India’s 500th Test:

Team-wise, the upcoming three-Test series starting September 22 will be closely watched. India will be playing their 500th Test match at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata (Sept 22-26). Out of the 499 games that India have played so far since June 1932, they have won 129 and lost 157. Two-hundred and twelve Tests have been drawn while one Test ended in a tie. They have beaten Australia the most number of times in Tests (24) while they have lost the most against England (43). India’s success percent in Tests is 25.9 percent.

Their rival in the next series – New Zealand – have played 412 Tests since January 1930, winning 85, losing 166 and drawing 161 (success per cent 20.63 per cent).

For the records, the team which has won the most number of Test matches is England (976) while Australia have been the most successful (372 wins out of 791 games).

NZ have won only 2 Tests in India till date:

New Zealand will be keen to better their unimpressive records in India in Tests. In 31 matches that they have played against India in India since 1955-56, the Kiwis have won only two games – one in 1969-70 and another in 1988-89.

Individually, too, the upcoming series promises a lot for the record-keepers.

Skipper Kohli will look to carry on with his good run:

First, Virat Kohli, the Indian Test skipper. He is having a good run as he has captained the team for nine matches now and they haven’t lost a single Test. The other captains who are ahead of him are Sunil Gavaskar (18), Kapil Dev (17), Mohammed Azharuddin (14), MS Dhoni (11) and Sachin Tendulkar (10). Hence, another unbeaten series could see Kohli go to the fourth spot.

He has also led his side to three consecutive Test series wins and will be looking to make it four in a row.

Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor will compete for top honour:

New Zealand’s talented captain Kane Williamson is also within a striking distance of becoming the owner of the most number of Test tons for his country. Williamson, 26, is now just three short of the late Martin Crowe’s 17 Test tons – the most number by a Kiwi batsman, though he has played 21 Tests less. Another frontline batsman Ross Taylor (second at the moment with 15 centuries) can also break the record of Crowe, who died earlier this year after a prolonged battle against cancer.

Ashwin could become the fastest Asian bowler to get 200 Test scalps:

In the bowling front, Ravichandran Ashwin could become the second fastest bowler overall and the fastest in Asia to get 200 Test wickets if he can grab seven wickets in the first Test (Sept 22-26) at Kanpur. Ashwin has 193 scalps in 36 games so far while the quickest Asian bowler to bag 200 Test wickets is Waqar Younis (in 38 matches). Australian leg-spinner Clarrie Grimmett is the quickest overall to reach the milestone in 36 matches.

But can NZ’s bowling attack turn the tables around?

The upcoming series promises a lot of fireworks, particularly after that 2014 series when the Kiwi batsmen had made life hard for the Indian bowlers. However, the ruling out of pace bowler Tim Southee because of injury is a big blow for New Zealand. The visiting spinners also failed to cause much problem for Mumbai in the tour game, which means Williamson would have his share of worries while striving for a turnaround in New Zealand’s ordinary show in Tests in the Indian subcontinent.