India has a chance to re-enact Queen's Park show at Eden Park

India has a chance to re-enact Queen's Park show at Eden Park

Barring a couple of exceptions, India has never been considered a great chaser of targets in Test cricket.

But the current bunch, under M S Dhoni, has a bright chance to chart a new course on Sunday when they aim to scale a massive 407 against New Zealand at Eden Park.
India ended the third day of the first Test at 87 for one, and they need to score a further 320 runs with nine wickets remaining to register an improbable win.

It’s a tantalising offer, a place in history and as with every such venture, India’s path too is fraught with danger.

In the long history of cricket, only 19 times have teams managed to post a 400-plus total in the fourth innings, and in that only four efforts have come in a winning cause.

From an Indian perspective, they have managed to achieve that rare feat three times—once each in defeat, draw and victory. The first time India managed to score more than 400 in the fourth innings was in 1976 against the West Indies at Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain. Chasing 403, India made 406 for four to score a remarkable win.

India stitched together another 400-plus total—445 against Australia at Adelaide in 1978—while chasing a mammoth 493. A year later, India repeated the feat at the Oval against England while chasing 438, ending up at 429 for eight. The West Indies hold the record for the highest successful chase against Australia in 2003 at St John’s when they scored 418.

The team has explosive batsmen in Shikhar Dhawan (49 batting), Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Dhoni, while Cheteshwar Pujara (22 batting) offers solidity.

India also bat deep, as they have an extra batsman in Ajinkya Rahane, and Ravindra Jadeja, too, is a handy lower-order batsman.

It is safe to assume that India have enough fire power in their ranks to go past the target, but it all depends on how they will negotiate the first couple of hours on the fourth day against a set of Kiwi bowlers who are adept in exploiting the conditions. But the chance to create history may just spur them.

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