Cricket: Cairns the rock as Kiwis force draw to clinch series

New Zealand 366 & 464-8 dec India 416 & 249-2 Match drawn New Zealand win series 1-0
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The Independent Online
NEW ZEALAND yesterday won their home series against India after forcing a draw with a solid second-innings score in the third and final Test in Hamilton.

New Zealand took the series 1-0 by virtue of their four-wicket win in the second Test in Wellington. The first Test, in Dunedin, was abandoned to rain without a ball bowled.

New Zealand put an Indian victory out of reach on the final day with a mighty second innings, led by a punishing 126 from Chris Cairns, who was awarded man of the match. The all-rounder also took six wickets in the match.

When Stephen Fleming, the New Zealand captain, declared at 464 for 8 13 minutes after lunch, India were 414 runs behind and could only hope to see off an unlikely defeat. Their task was made even easier after injuries forced New Zealand to take the field without two of its specialist bowlers.

Dion Nash had back pain and Daniel Vettori went to hospital for a precautionary X-ray on a finger hurt in fielding practice. Simon Doull was suffering heatstroke but bowled four overs.

With little left to salvage from the match except some pride, India's Rahul Dravid and Saurav Ganguly hammered New Zealand's part-time bowlers and both reached unbeaten centuries by stumps.

Fleming said he had delayed his declaration because he wanted to make sure the Indians were out of the game. "The pitch had hardly deteriorated and there was no way we could have bowled them out. Also, three of our bowlers were injured or ill," he said.

This was India's third defeat in consecutive away series against New Zealand, which Anshuman Gaekwad, the India coach, blamed on poor catching and a lack of bowling firepower.

"We batted all right and the bowling wasn't too bad, although there is no doubt that three strike bowlers were not enough to beat this fine side," he said.

The failure of India's openers during the tour was another disappointment for the visitors. Ajay Jadeja and Navjot Sidhu went cheaply in all four Test innings played in the series.

Final day; India won toss

NEW ZEALAND - First Innings 366 (M J Horne 67, R G Twose 87; J Srinath 5-95).

INDIA - First Innings 416 (R S Dravid 190, S R Tendulkar 67, J Srinath 76; C L Cairns 4-107).

NEW ZEALAND - Second Innings

(Overnight: 323 for 6)

C L Cairns c Dravid b Kumble 126

D J Nash run out 63

D L Vettori not out 43

Extras (b9 lb7 w1 nb8) 25

Total (for 8 dec) 464

Did not bat: P J Wiseman, S B Doull.

Fall (cont): 7-372 8-464.

Bowling: Prasad 33-8-75-1; R Singh jr 19-3-102-1 (1w); Srinath 27-6-90- 1 (5nb); Kumble 45.5-13-124-2; Tendulkar 7-0-30-2; Ganguly 6-1-27-0 (3nb).

INDIA - Second Innings

A D Jadeja c Parore b Cairns 21

N S Sidhu b Cairns 13

R S Dravid not out 103

S C Ganguly not out 101

Extras (1b9 nb2) 11

Total (for 2) 249

Did not bat: *S R Tendulkar, M Azharuddin, N R Mongia, A Kumble, J Srinath, B K Venkatesh Prasad, R Singh jnr.

Fall: 1-33 2-55.

Bowling: Doull 4-0-17-0; Cairns 9-1-30-2; McMillan 17-4-59-0; Wiseman 12-0-80-0; Twose 9.1-0-50-0; Horne 1-0-4-0.

Umpires: D B Cowie (NZ) and R E Koertzen (SA).