The hammering of the Kiwis in the recently concluded test series versus India was not entirely unexpected. For long, the Indian Cricket team has had the reputation of being tigers at home and has pummeled the visiting teams ruthlessly on many occasions.
Like most teams, New Zealand too found the going tough on the Indian pitches regardless of the format of the game. Hence, India vs New Zealand head-to-head record in India is lopsided and clearly favours India.
However, the Black Caps managed to deliver some stunning individual performances and in this article, we take a look at five best knocks played by the Kiwi batsmen on the Indian turf in ODI cricket.
#1 Nathan Astle 120 (Rajkot 1999)
For almost a decade, Nathan Astle was a key cog at the top of the Kiwi batting order and undoubtedly one of New Zealand’s greatest ODI players. Astle racked up 16 hundreds in his ODI career, the highest for any New Zealander.
When in full flow, Astle could lay into any bowling attack with his uninhibited strokeplay and wreak maximum havoc in a very quick time.
Astle started off New Zealand’s tour of India in 1999 in great style by smashing a marvellous 120 in the first ODI. His knock was studded with 12 fours and 2 sixes and formed the cornerstone of New Zealand innings.
Faced with a mammoth target of 350, the Indian batsmen fought valiantly but fell well short of the victory thanks to Astle’s brilliant 3/40. For tormenting India with his batting and bowling, Astle bagged the ‘Man of the Match’ honour.
Not surprisingly, Astle still holds the record for the fastest double hundred in test cricket, a feat he accomplished when he blitzed a spectacular 222 in just 168 balls in a losing cause against England.
#2 Chris Cairns 103 (Pune 1995)
Chris Cairns was one of the most underrated players of his time but his all-round feats in tests and ODIs are remarkable by any yardstick. He is one of a handful of players who scored more than 4000 runs and took more than 200 wickets in ODIs.
Cairns was a fierce striker of the ball who could smash sixes at will and possessed the ability to score runs at a galloping pace. On numerous occasions, he turned the match on its head with his belligerent batting or canny medium pace.
When Cairns came to bat, the Kiwis were staring down the barrel at 75/4. Cairns produced a scintillating 103 off just 87 balls which propelled the Kiwis to a respectable total of 235. While no other batsman could score even one six in the match, Cairns managed to hit four maximums in his breathtaking innings thus revealing his penchant for big shots.
With the ball too, Cairns was equally brilliant and took 3/37 off 10 overs. However, he lacked support from other bowlers and India overcame the target without breaking a sweat. Despite delivering a magnificent all-round performance, Cairns could not save his team from a crushing defeat and had to be content with the ‘Man of the Match’ honour.
#3 Martin Crowe 107* (Jamshedpur 1995)
In the history of New Zealand cricket, three things are indisputable – Sir Richard Hadlee’s place as their greatest cricketer, Daniel Vettori’s place as their greatest spin bowler and Martin Crowe’s place as their greatest batsman. Crowe was light years ahead of the rest of the Kiwi batsmen and was famous for his silken stroke-play.
Crowe had his last hurrah in ODIs in the 1995/1996 season and his performance with the willow in the series was spectacular. With a tally of 187 runs, Crowe signed off as the second highest run-scorer in the series.
Crowe waved goodbye to cricket when he still had plenty of batting ability left in him but by then, he had already achieved enough to be regarded as the greatest batsman in New Zealand cricket. In the first ODI of the series, all the home team could manage was a modest total of 236 due to impressive bowling by New Zealand.
Crowe then notched up an unbeaten 107 and played a pivotal role in the run chase. Along with the young Stephen Fleming who made an unbeaten 78, Crowe took the Kiwis home with plenty of balls to spare.
#4 Nathan Astle 114 (Nagpur 1995)
New Zealand’s overall record in India may be dismal but Nathan Astle was one of a handful of Kiwi players who relished batting on the Indian pitches. Against India in India, Astle averages 47 in ODIs and 52 in tests, both of which are very impressive numbers.
New Zealand’s tour of India in 1995 was, in particular, a memorable one for Astle as he finished it as the highest run-getter in ODI series. Having made his ODI debut in the same year against the Windies, Astle was still making his early strides in international cricket but he proved to be more than a match for the Indian bowlers.
In the fifth match of the series, Astle struck a sparkling 114 and guided the Kiwis to a massive total of 348. This innings provided a vivid demonstration of his shot-making prowess and cemented Astle’s place at the top of the Kiwi batting order.
Faced with a mountain to climb, the Indian batting line-up came a cropper and was bundled out for 249 thus handing the Kiwis a huge victory. However, this match will be remembered more for being Martin Crowe’s last ODI appearance than for Astle’s breathtaking century.
#5 James Franklin 98* (Bengaluru 2010)
New Zealand’s tour of India in 2010 was an unforgettable nightmare for the Kiwi fans as the Black Caps were thrashed 0-5 in the ODI series. Throughout the series, the Black Caps succumbed to crushing defeats and James Franklin’s batting was one of the few bright spots for them.
At the international level, Franklin started off with good promise but failed to live up to the expectations. However, Franklin was at his aggressive best in this series with the willow.
Having beaten the Black Caps in the first three matches convincingly, the Indian young brigade was marching inexorably towards a clean-sweep when they were struck by Franklin’s hurricane knock in the fourth ODI. Franklin was unlucky to miss the century mark by a small margin of two runs.
In a brutal assault on the Indian bowlers, Franklin struck 12 fours and 3 sixes and plundered 98 runs off a mere 69 balls at a jaw-dropping Strike Rate of 142. He took the Kiwis past the 300 run mark and raised serious hopes of a first Kiwi victory in the series.
However, all the Kiwi hopes died a gory death when Yusuf Pathan blitzed a 96 ball 123 steering India to victory from a precarious position.