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Dhoni Lauds Series One As Vettori Clings To Positives

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Chris Barclay of NZPA

Wellington, April 7 NZPA - India addressed an historical anomaly while New Zealand were left to ponder their least successful home summer since their centenary year when the three-test cricket series dissolved into a draw on a wet and windy Basin Reserve today.

The premature end to the tour finale -- with New Zealand eight down in their final innings and having no hope of winning -- barely concerned the tourists as they were already assured of recording India's first test series victory here in 41 years.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's side started their five week tour with back-to-back losses in the Twenty 20 format in February but bounced back to win the one-day series 3-1 before the all-important first test triumph by 10 wickets in Hamilton last month.

Six previous Indian touring sides had been unable to match the deeds of the 1968 squad in winning in New Zealand, so Dhoni heads home tomorrow contented.

"We have achieved something big, we have set a benchmark and the next team will be under pressure to sustain it.

"It will be tougher for the next guys who come here, people will expect you to win."

While India arrived with some of cricket's biggest names in Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Harbhajan Singh, Dhoni did not have to rely on just them to perform -- although all three did.

"Everybody contributed. Each and every batsman scored at some point and the same with the bowlers.

Harbhajan led the bowling stats of both sides with 16 wickets at 21.37 while opener Gautam Gambhir's aggregate of 445 at 89 also beat all comers.

New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori acknowledged the series could not be saved once India recovered from 204 for six to post 379 in their first innings -- and New Zealand were rolled for 197 on Saturday.

However, he was encouraged by a plucky 142-run stand for the fifth wicket between Ross Taylor and James Franklin, who made 107 and 49 respectively before the rain provided salvation.

New Zealand were 281 for eight, well short of an impossible victory of 617 when the rain intensified.

"The fight that Ross and James showed to give us even a chance of saving the game was pleasing."

Vettori has presided over New Zealand's first winless home summer of test cricket since the West Indies, South Africa and Sri Lanka toured during the summer of 1994-95 but he still believed there were positive signs for the future.

"We dominated the last test and we played pretty well against the West Indies (drawn 0-0 in December).

Vettori cited the development of Jesse Ryder, who followed his maiden test hundred in Hamilton with 201 in Napier, Taylor's consecutive tons and the re-emergence of veteran fast bowler Chris Martin, who was New Zealand's leading wicket taker with 14 at 32.17.

But New Zealand were still eighth and last among the major test playing nations and there was no quick fix.

"We do things well for a period of time but the longevity of what we do is the thing that's causing us the most stress and causing me the most stress," Vettori said.

Dhoni had few regrets about delaying his declaration despite weather forecasts and the certainty of bad light.

On reflection, a target of 320 would have been sufficient but Dhoni was confident 110 overs would be enough to dismiss New Zealand -- they had to settle for 94.3.

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