New Delhi: India and New Zealand are currently facing off in the second match of a two-Test series at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium. The series has become a cricketing milestone in its own way: it’s the first Test rubber (series between two sides) to feature four captains in 132 years.
Virat Kohli took over from Ajinkya Rahane to captain the Indian side in the second Test, while Kane Williamson’s elbow injury flared up after the first match, which ended on 29 November, and Tom Latham took his place as New Zealand’s skipper.
The last time this happened was when England toured South Africa for a two-test series in 1889. Aubrey Smith came down with a fever after the first match, and was replaced as England captain by Monty Bowden. In the process, Bowden became England’s youngest ever Test captain at the age of 23 years and 144 days.
Meanwhile, Owen Dunnell led South Africa in the first match and was succeeded by William Milton in the second, although both men played in both games.
The 1889 series
Technically, the 1889 series wasn’t quite England vs.South Africa. It was billed as Major Warton’s XI vs a South African XI. Warton, a British Army officer, had organised a private tour of South Africa and negotiated with local agents. They made all the arrangements while Warton travelled to England and recruited his side — and made his own debut as an umpire in the series.
This was recognised as a Test series — a term first used officially in the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack that same year, 1889 — only after the event, and the classification has always been controversial. Rowland Bowen, in his Cricket: a History of Its Growth and Development: Throughout the World, argues that the standards in the series were so poor that the matches shouldn’t have been rated as first-class, let alone Tests.
Nevertheless, these are considered the first ever first-class matches played in South Africa.
How the matches unfolded
The visiting English side made short work of the South Africans, whitewashing them for a 2-0 victory in the series, which was played on a green matting wicket in Port Elizabeth. They won the first match by a thumping eight wickets, and the second by an innings and 202 runs.
That makes quite a contrast with the ongoing series between India and New Zealand, which has been rather competitive up to this point.
In the first Test, India seemed to be in control of the proceedings with Shreyas Iyer becoming the first Indian to score a century and a half on his Test debut in the first innings, and the Indian bowlers’ relentless spin attack.
But New Zealand swept victory from India’s hand with a gritty display by Rachin Ravindra, who stood at the wicket until the last day’s play was called off, and secured a draw for his side.
However, on the second day of the ongoing second Test, India ended its first innings at 325 with the help of Mayank Agarwal’s 150 and a half-century by Axar Patel (52) later in the innings. In a big blow-out, New Zealand were then all out for 62 in their first innings.
Ajaz Patel became the star for the Kiwis by securing all 10 wickets of the Indian batsmen in the first innings. He became only the third player in the history of Test cricket to achieve this feat after Jim Laker and Anil Kumble in 1956 and 1999 respectively.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)