On this day: India’s first away Test win
In the buffet of Cricket, an away Test win is equivalent to a dessert. It is the sweetest memory for the players who are involved and also for the fans cheering for their side. The Indian fans got their first chance to celebrate an away win in 1968 when the Indian Test team toured New Zealand.
After its first step in Test cricket in 1932, the Indian team struggled in its initial years like most other debuting Test nations. India had to wait for twenty years to claim its first Test win which came against an English side led by Donald Carr in Madras.
With the home Test win ticked off the list, the Indian fans next longed to celebrate an away Test win. The patient wait began and after seven overseas tours in next 16 years that included Pakistan, West Indies, England and Australia, they were still waiting.
India went to England in 1967 and lost 0-3, went to Australia and lost 0-4. The dispirited Indian team’s next foreign assignment was in 1968, the tour to New Zealand. This was the first time India would be playing a Test in New Zealand.
So far, India’s record against New Zealand was a healthy one as they were unbeaten against the island nation in the nine Tests played in India.
Carisbrook, Dunedin was the venue for the first Test – a venue at which New Zealand had lost two and drawn two Tests previously. New Zealand captain Barry Sinclair won the toss on this occasion and chose to bat first on a pitch slower than usual.
India opting to play with three medium pace bowlers bowled the home team out for 350. Opener Graham Dowling starred with his knock of 143 whereas Abid Ali was the pick of the bowlers for India with figures of 4/26.
The collaborative effort from Indian batsmen got them past New Zealand’s score and earned them a slender lead of nine runs. It’s worth mentioning here that all eleven Indian batsmen got into double digits with Captain Ajit Wadekar top-scoring with 80.
With the psychological advantage of the first innings lead, India used its strongest weapon – spin bowling against the Kiwi team. New Zealand batsmen failed the trial by spin and collapsed to 208 all out in their second outing. The wily off-spinner Erapalli Prasanna dominated the proceedings as he picked six wickets for 94 runs.
The target of 200 looked far away on the fifth day morning as the rain threatened to make life difficult for the visitors. However, Indians played safe and inched towards the tricky target with assurance. In the 75th over, India completed the chase and thus earned its first ever Test win on foreign soil.
What happened next?
India defeated New Zealand two more times in the next three Tests and won its first-ever away Test series with the score-line 3-1. In the year 1971, they defeated both West Indies and England in their own backyard with 1-0 victories. India by now has defeated every Test playing nation at its home*.
*Afghanistan and Ireland are yet to play a Test match.
Full scorecard – http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/17295/scorecard/63019/new-zealand-vs-india-1st-test-india-tour-of-new-zealand-1967-68/