The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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India crash to humiliating loss

Wellington, Dec. 14 (PTI): Repeating the same mistakes which spelt their doom in the first innings, Indiaís formidable batting line-up crumbled for the second time in three days as they crashed to a humiliating 10-wicket defeat against New Zealand in the first Test here Saturday.

The Indians gave an extremely poor account of themselves as they managed to bat just 96.5 overs in two innings to suffer one of their worst defeats in recent times, allowing the hosts to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

After pace spearhead Zaheer Khan captured his first five-wicket haul to restrict New Zealandís first innings lead to 86 runs, the batsmen put in an appalling display to be bundled out for a paltry 121 in just 38.1 overs on a Basin Reserve pitch which had eased out considerably.

Sachin Tendulkar was the top scorer for the beleaguered Indians with 51 but none of the other batsmen showed the temperament to stay at the crease as speedsters Shane Bond (four for 33), Darryl Tuffey (three for 35) and Jacob Oram (three for 28) again took the batting apart.

Needing just 36 runs to record their fourth consecutive win against India, New Zealand openers Mark Richardson (14) and Lou Vincent (21) rattled up the required runs in 9.3 overs.

New Zealand resumed at their overnight score of 201 for seven and didnít go beyond 247 but the 86-run lead was enough to knock the wind out of Indiaís sails. Overnight batsman Richardsonís effort to become only the second New Zealand player to bat through the innings failed when Zaheer trapped him in front for 89 with the very first delivery with the new ball.

Earlier, Richardson was dropped in the slips by Dravid when the batsman was yet to add to his overnight score of 83. The left-handed opener batted for 407 minutes and hit 10 fours from 244 balls. Zaheer then picked up his fifth wicket when he took the edge of Daniel Vettoriís bat for a catch to Parthiv Patel.

Shane Bond was the last man out for two, bowled by Ajit Agarkar, the one and only victim of the bowler in the innings.

The Indians returned to the pavilion mid-way through the first session with a little spring in their steps after restricting New Zealand courtesy Zaheer Khanís career-best figures of five for 53.

Then India lived the nightmare of its first inningsí 161, and their second innings effort of 121 from 38.1 overs in less than three hours of batting, was worse. V.V.S. Laxman bagged a pair in the match, captain Sourav Ganguly managed just 19 in two innings and the openers, Sanjay Bangar (12) and Virender Sehwag (12) failed once again to leave India staring at defeat.

Bangar and Sehwag had moved swiftly to 23 from seven overs when Sehwag played back to an incoming swinging delivery from Bond and was trapped plumb in front. Bangar was unlucky to be given out though, when he had played full-stretch forward to an Oram delivery and the dipping in-swinger hit him outside the line of stumps.

Bond broke the back of Indiaís batting in his seventh over when he claimed Dravid (7) and Sourav (2) in four balls to send a chill down the Indian spine. Dravid drove at a ball which wasnít pitched up and moved a shade to rattle his stumps while Sourav poked his bat at a moving delivery to underline once again his weakness outside the off-stump.

India could have been six down for 42 had umpire Asoka De Silva not thrust out his left-arm to call a no-ball as a Bond delivery made a mess of Tendulkarís attempted drive and scattered his stumps when the maestro was just on three.

Tendulkar and Patel then delayed the inevitable for 12 overs before Patel made a tentative jab at a Tuffey delivery and was caught at first slip. Tuffey took two more as he removed Agarkar (9) and Harbhajan Singh (1).

Agarkar was out to a wretched shot, offering a catch to deep point while Harbhajan became another victim in the slip cordon. Helplessly watching the procession of his teammates from the other end Tendulkar opened up taking on Bond who was brought back to finish off the good work he began. But Tendulkar dented Bondís impressive figures to 33 runs from 13.1 overs.

Zaheer was stunned in the first ball of the next over when he saw Scott Styris pull off a spectacular diving catch at point. Last man Ashish Nehra survived the next five balls before Tendulkar dragged one back on to his stumps off Bond to pull down the curtains.

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