New Zealand have won only two Tests in India ever since they started playing them, with their last victory coming in 1988 at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai.
Kane Williamson’s New Zealand team will play their first series as the new ICC World Test Champions. It is fitting that their first series as champions should be against India. It was Williamson that once again prolonged India’s pain in ICC events when he beat Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team in the final in Southampton. This was a continuation of New Zealand’s magnificent run in ICC events against India. If one looks at the ICC Champions Trophy, World Cup and the World T20 combined from 1975 to 2021, New Zealand has lost only three times to India.
If New Zealand is India’s ultimate pain in ICC events, then India is New Zealand’s biggest bogey when it comes to their home Tests. In 34 Tests that New Zealand has played India ever since they started touring in 1955, they have won just two Tests. They have drawn 16 and lost 16. When it comes to the win-loss ratio, their figure of 0.125 in India is the worst for them amongst all nations.
Such is the lack of wins for New Zealand in India that it is very easy to document their woes. It is so poor that when New Zealand last won a Test in India, their current skipper Kane Williamson was not even born. New Zealand’s two wins against India came in 1969 and 1988. In the 1955/56 series, India won the five-match series 2-0. When New Zealand returned for a four-match Test series in 1965, India won it 1-0. But, in 1969, the Kiwis enjoyed its best run.
1969 was their summer in the sub-continent. They had won a series in Pakistan. Prior to that, a three-Test series against India laid the foundation for their success. In the first Test at the Brabourne stadium, the Black Caps squandered a 73-run lead to lose by 60 runs. Bishan Singh Bedi’s six wickets in the final innings gave India a memorable win as they took a 1-0 lead.
But, New Zealand staged a magnificent fightback as they won the second Test in Nagpur by 167 runs. Mark Burgess, Bevan Congdon, and Graham Dowling all hit fifties to help New Zealand reach a big score. They took a 62-run lead thanks to Hedley Howarth’s 4/66. New Zealand managed 214 in the second innings with Glenn Turner the only one hitting a fifty. Srinivas Venkataraghavan took 6/74 as India looked to seal the match. But, Howarth’s 5/34 gave New Zealand their first win in India.
On an underprepared wicket in Hyderabad, New Zealand had the upper hand. They reached 181 and bowled India out for 89. After declaring at 175/8, they destroyed India to 76/7. But, crowd trouble and rain on day 2 meant that India could escape with a draw and ensure India did not lose the series.
New Zealand’s win in Nagpur in 1969 would be their last win in India for close to two decades. New Zealand toured in 1976 only to lose the series 0-2. After that series, New Zealand did not tour the country for 12 years. After their series against Sri Lanka was marred by a terrorist attack, the team arrived in India eager to break the jinx.
After India won the first Test in Bangalore by 172 runs, both teams arrived in Mumbai for the second Test. In a see-saw match, New Zealand held the initiative. They managed to take a two-run lead thanks to Richard Hadlee’s brilliant 6/49. Andrew Jones and Ian Smith’s fifties gave India a challenging target of 281. Hadlee took four wickets to take 10 in the match. But, it was John Bracewell’s brilliant 6/51 that gave New Zealand a brilliant 136-run win.
However, illness and fitness issues plagued the team in the final Test. Such was the situation that at one point, they had to take the help of the backroom staff and a commentator to ensure they would have 11 players on the field. It was no surprise they lost the Test by 10 wickets. In the next 22 years, New Zealand would lose just two Tests in India but they never won a series. New Zealand, however, has lost six consecutive Tests ever since the last draw in Hyderabad.
When one looks at the Test records of New Zealand and India in the respective host nations, it is extreme. India has won just five Tests in New Zealand. However, one of them was a 3-1 series win in 1968 which was India’s first overseas triumph. After a win in 1976, India did not win a Test in New Zealand for 33 years. Even in that Hamilton triumph in 2009, they won the series for the second time. However, since then, India has not won a single match in New Zealand for 12 years.
New Zealand has never won a Test series in India. India and South Africa remain the only countries where they have never won a Test series. Under the captaincy of Kane Williamson and with India resting some key players, New Zealand will be determined to break the Indian hoodoo.