India and New Zealand will clash in the mega final of the World Test Championship in Southampton from Friday, the 18th of June. From India’s first overseas win in Dunedin in 1968 to Rahul Dravid’s twin hundreds at Hamilton to Brendon McCullum’s three 200-plus scores - the India-New Zealand Test encounters have seen many great and memorable performances.
We look back at the India-New Zealand rivalry and pick out some interesting numbers from history.
India’s Overall Domination
India have dominated against New Zealand winning 21 of the 59 matches and losing just 12. 16 of these wins have come at home while there have been 5 memorable wins in New Zealand. India have lost just two matches at home against New Zealand - interestingly, slow left-arm orthodox bowler Hedley Howarth picked 9 in Nagpur in 1969 to give New Zealand a massive win by 167 runs. The hero of the second win was also a spinner - John Bracewell - the right-arm off spinner picked six wickets in the second innings and with good support from Richard Hadlee took the visitors to a series-levelling 136-run win in Mumbai in 1988.
However the recent rivalry is more neck to neck with the scoreline being 3-3 in the last 7 matches. Both the countries have dominated the other at home since 2014.
Interestingly, while India have been beaten comprehensively in their last three series in England, New Zealand drew there in 2015 and won recently in 2021.
Advantage New Zealand in ICC Events
New Zealand have dominated India at ICC Events across formats and have a staggering 10-3 record. They have also won the last 5 ICC encounters between the two nations. They beat India by 10 runs in the World T20 clash in Johannesburg in 2007, again got the better of the fancied Indian side by 47 runs in another World T20 encounter in Nagpur in 2016, beat them by 18 runs in the semi-final of the World Cup at Old Trafford in 2019 and most recently defeated India 2-0 in the two-match series in the ICC World Test Championship at home in New Zealand.
India’s last win at an ICC event against New Zealand came in the 2003 World Cup when the Sourav Ganguly-led side overcame their opponents by 7 wickets at Centurion with Zaheer Khan producing a Player of the Match performance.
The First Away Win
India recorded their first historic away Test win in New Zealand when Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi led them to a five-wicket win in Dunedin in 1968. Ajit Wadelar was the hero for India with the bat with 80 and 71 in the two innings. Erapalli Prasanna bagged six wickets in the second innings. India won at Wellington and Auckland too and went on to register a famous 3-1 win in the four-match series.
New Zealand Stumble Against The Wall
Rahul Dravid has the best record against New Zealand for an Indian batsman with 1659 runs in 15 Tests at an average of 63.8 with 6 hundreds. His most brilliant performance came in the drawn Test at Hamilton in 1999 when he became the third Indian batsmen after Vijay Hazare and Sunil Gavaskar to record a hundred in each innings of a Test. No one has scored more hundreds than Dravid’s 6 in India-New Zealand encounters.
The Two Stunning Hundreds in Auckland
Ian Smith and Mohammed Azharuddin defied all odds and registered two great hundreds in Auckland in 1990. Smith smashed a magnificent 173 off just 136 deliveries batting at number 9 in the first innings. The Indian skipper came out to bat with his team under pressure at 71 for 3 in the first innings and produced a sublime 192 off 259 balls.
Ian Smith’s strike rate of 127.2 in the innings is the highest strike rate in a 100-plus knock in an India-New Zealand Test in history.
Brendon McCullum - The Two Time Double Centurion and a Triple Century Against India
Brendon McCullum scored three 200-plus scores against India in Test cricket. Of course, his most epic knock was the stunning 302 from 52 for 3 in the second innings at the Basin Reserve in 2014. He also scored 225 in Hyderabad in 2010 and 224 in Auckland in 2014.
Vinoo Mankad is the only Indian player to record two double hundreds against New Zealand. He registered 231 in Chennai in 1956 just a few weeks after he had scored 223 at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai in the same series.
The R Ashwin Factor
R Ashwin has been New Zealand’s nemesis in India. He has bagged a whopping 48 wickets against them in just 6 Tests at an average of 16.97 and strike rate of 33.1 including six fifers and 3 ten-wicket hauls in a match. It is the best average and strike rate for any bowler in India-New Zealand contests.
Ashwin has caused trouble to the New Zealand big 3 - he has removed Taylor 5 times in 6 matches, Williamson 5 times in 5 matches and Latham 4 times in 4 matches. This should be another reason for India to play Ashwin in the final at Southampton.
India - Beware of Tim Southee
Tim Southee will pose the biggest threat to India in Southampton. With 39 wickets from 8 matches, his strike rate of 43.2 against India is the best for a New Zealand bowler - even better than Richard Hadlee. Southee picked 9 wickets in Wellington and starred with the ball in New Zealand’s thumping win against India. He also returned with 7 wickets in India’s first innings in Bengaluru in 2012.
With his experience and ability to swing the ball he will definitely pose a big challenge to India in Southampton.
Ishant Sharma - India’s Best Fast Bowler Against New Zealand
Ishant Sharma has bagged 35 wickets in 7 matches against New Zealand at an average of 24.14 and strike rate of 42.5 which is the best amongst all fast bowlers in India-New Zealand contests. His stand out performances came at the Basin Reserve and in Auckland both in 2014. Ishant returned with 6-51 in Wellington and 6-134 at Eden Park.
Conditions in England are most similar to New Zealand. Also, Ishant is the most experienced Indian pacer with a fine record in England. This makes him a big threat for Southampton.
When India Came Close to Hunting Down 407 in Auckland
New Zealand had set India 407 for a win in the series opener in Auckland in 2014. A century partnership for the third-wicket between Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli took India to 222 when the double Nelson saw the back of the latter. Dhawan recorded a splendid hundred but a flurry of wickets saw India struggle at 270 for 6. Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni then put together 54 for the seventh wicket but Jadeja’s departure ultimately saw India being bowled out for 366 going down by 40 runs.