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Best of the Tests at the Basin Reserve


Basin_Reserve_Wellington_New_Zealand_Ground_Test_CricketThe Black Caps have begun their three-Test series against Bangladesh on a strong note, courtesy of a resounding win by an innings and 51 runs at Hamilton. The action now moves to the Basin Reserve in the capital city of Wellington, where the second Test is set to be played from March 8. Since hosting its first match back in 1929-30, the much-revered Basin Reserve has witnessed 62 Tests – the most by a ground in New Zealand – of which the hosts have won 18 and lost 20.

In its 89 years as a Test centre, the Basin Reserve has been the scene of some highly significant episodes in New Zealand’s cricketing history, ranging from landmark victories to record-breaking individual feats. As we look forward to the commencement of yet another Wellington Test, here is a look back at six memorable matches contested at the iconic venue over the years.

New Zealand v England, First Test, 1977-78

Prior to this Test, New Zealand had failed to get the better of England in 48 attempts. Opener John Wright (55) batted for over six hours, but paceman Chris Old (6/54) ensured that New Zealand were restricted to 228, the last five wickets falling for 35. England’s reply was similar – Geoffrey Boycott scored 77, but the score nosedived from 183/4 to 215 all out. The new-ball pair of Richard Hadlee (4/74) and left-armer Richard Collinge (3/42) caused the bulk of the damage.

Batting against pace became difficult as the match progressed, with Bob Willis (5/32) stealing the show in the second innings to send New Zealand crashing from 82/1 to 123. However, defending a modest 137, New Zealand again rode on the talismanic Hadlee (6/26) and Collinge (3/35) to bundle a shell-shocked England out for a paltry 64 on the fifth morning. The jubilant crowd gathered in front of the pavilion to celebrate the hosts’ first ever Test win against England.

New Zealand v Sri Lanka, First Test, 1990-91

Sri Lankan fast bowlers Rumesh Ratnayake (4/45) and Graeme Labrooy (4/68) gave their team an early advantage by rolling New Zealand over for 174 on the first day. Sri Lanka’s response revolved around a majestic 267 from Aravinda de Silva, which went past Brendon Kuruppu’s 201* (against New Zealand at Colombo in 1986-87) as the highest Test score by a Sri Lankan. The visitors were bowled out for 497 on the third day, with Danny Morrison returning 5/153.

Behind by 323, New Zealand were provided with a solid start through a stand of 134 between openers Trevor Franklin and Wright (88). Wright’s loss at 148 brought together Andrew Jones and captain Martin Crowe, and the duo embarked upon a new record partnership for any wicket in Test cricket. They dug in for the best part of the fourth and fifth days in a monumental third-wicket alliance of 467, bettering the previous record of 451 that was achieved on two occasions.

Jones fell for 186, while Crowe narrowly missed out on a triple hundred, getting out caught behind for a national-record 299 that took over ten hours and ensured a draw. Sri Lanka’s 497 and New Zealand’s 671/4 were then the highest Test totals for the respective teams. The 467-run stand has since been broken twice, while Crowe’s 299 remained the record for New Zealand until 2013-14, when Brendon McCullum surpassed it with 302 against India, also at Wellington.

New Zealand v India, Second Test, 1998-99

There was everything to play for at the Basin after the first Test at Dunedin was completely washed out. Medium pacer Simon Doull (7/65) scythed through the Indian top order to reduce the score to 16/4, before captain Mohammad Azharuddin staged a rescue act with an unbeaten 103 from number six, thus carrying India to a respectable 208. The game was very much in the balance when New Zealand wobbled to 208/7, at which point Daniel Vettori joined Dion Nash.

Nash (89*) and Vettori (57) frustrated the Indians with an eighth-wicket stand of 137 that gave New Zealand a 144-run lead. India managed 356 in the second dig, thanks to Sachin Tendulkar’s 113. When New Zealand fell to 74/5 in their chase of 213, India were well on top. However, there was a late revival again, this time through Craig McMillan (74*) and Chris Cairns (61). The duo put on 137 for the sixth wicket, paving the way for New Zealand’s four-wicket victory.

New Zealand v India, Second Test, 2013-14

This was a must-win Test for India if they were to square the two-match series. Fast bowlers Ishant Sharma (6/51) and Mohammed Shami (4/70) gave them an ideal platform by combining to bowl New Zealand for 192. Shikhar Dhawan (98), Ajinkya Rahane (118) and captain MS Dhoni (68) consolidated India’s position by boosting the first-innings lead to 246, and when New Zealand slid to 94/5 after lunch on the third day, it seemed that only rain could deny the visitors.

Captain Brendon McCullum rose to the task, and along with wicketkeeper BJ Watling, scripted one of the greatest rearguard efforts the game has seen. When the pair got together, New Zealand were trailing by 152 runs with half the side back in the hut and more than half of the game’s duration still remaining. By the time they were separated, due to Watling’s dismissal for 124 after tea on the fourth day, they had added 352 – a new record sixth-wicket stand – in 123 overs.

McCullum was not done yet – he put on a further 179 for the seventh wicket with debutant Jimmy Neesham (137), and created history by becoming the first New Zealander to hit a Test triple-hundred. He was finally dislodged for 302, after having faced 559 balls and batted five minutes short of 13 hours. New Zealand ultimately declared at a mammoth 680/8, then their biggest Test total. Having squandered a golden chance, India ended at 166/3 (Virat Kohli 105*).

New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Second Test, 2014-15

Sri Lanka’s quest to level the two-match series began brightly, as their pace attack, with Nuwan Pradeep (4/63) at the forefront, limited New Zealand to 221. Kane Williamson gave a glimpse of what was to follow, top-scoring with 69. Sangakkara then put New Zealand’s bowling to the sword with a glorious 203 – he rescued Sri Lanka from a dire 78/5 by putting on 130 for the sixth wicket with Dinesh Chandimal (67), before expertly shepherding the tail to take the total to 356.

When New Zealand lost their fifth second-innings wicket in the second session of the third day, they were ahead by only 24 runs. The spunky Watling joined Williamson at this juncture, and together they staged one of the most remarkable comebacks in Test history. The pair batted for as many as 111.3 overs to stitch an unbroken partnership of 365, which was more than any other sixth-wicket stand in Test cricket, duly leading to a declaration at 524/5 late on the fourth day.

Williamson batted for more than ten hours to finish with a career-best 242*, while Watling proved the ideal foil with 142*. Incidentally, Watling was part of the previous-best sixth-wicket partnership as well – the aforementioned 352-run stand with McCullum against India at the same venue less than a year earlier. This epic by the two Ws left Sri Lanka with a stiff target of 390, and despite an unbeaten 62 from Lahiru Thirimanne, the visitors could muster no more than 196.

New Zealand v Bangladesh, First Test, 2016-17

Fifties from Tamim Iqbal (56) and Mominul Haque (64) lifted Bangladesh after they were put in to bat by Williamson, but at 160/4, New Zealand were perhaps just wicket away from gaining control. Shakib Al Hasan and captain Mushfiqur Rahim had other ideas, as they went on to share in a rollicking fifth-wicket stand of 359, a new all-wicket record for Bangladesh. Rahim fell for 159, while Shakib smote 217 to create a new record for the highest Test score by a Bangladeshi.

The Tigers declared at 595/8, to which New Zealand replied with 539 (Tom Latham 177). In a familiar occurrence, Bangladesh wasted their gains by capitulating to 160 in the second innings. Williamson (104*) and Ross Taylor (60) completed the turnaround with a third-wicket stand of 163 in the 217-run chase, steering New Zealand to a seven-wicket win. Bangladesh’s total was the highest ever in a Test loss, going past Australia’s 586 against England at Sydney in 1894-95.

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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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