He sent shivers down the spine of hosts

HE was certainly the star of the match. He came to India well aware that his craft was always going to be on test. Not many of his trade have succeeded on the placid or turning tracks of India but this strapping bowler from Northern Districts brought the Test alive with a sensational spell.

Man of the Match Daryl Tuffey got rid of Sachin Tendulkar with a gem of a ball in the second innings. - Pic. V.V. KRISHNAN.-

If India escaped with a draw it was purely because Daryl Tuffey lacked the support from the other end. Had Shane Bond been his ally, the Indians would have been hard-pressed to save the match. Tuffey bowled like a champion against a champion batting line up and was duly rewarded for his work.

Watching from the sidelines, one got the impression that Tuffey had made up his mind to make an early impact on the final day. That he brought it off with an amazing piece of fielding, sliding and throwing the ball in a flash, spoke for the man's commitment. "I had struggled on the fourth day and was keen to make up. It was just one of those days when things work in your favour,'' said a modest Tuffey.

With a best Test bowling figures of six for 54 against England at Auckland in 2001-2002, it was natural that New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming expected Tuffey to take over the mantle. "He was fantastic,'' gushed Fleming as Tuffey claimed two wickets to enforce the follow-on and then send shivers down the spine of the opposition by accounting for Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar.

The ball that got Tendulkar was a gem, slipping through the gate. To beat a master batsman like Tendulkar was highly creditable and no wonder the legendary Geoffery Boycott termed it the "ball of the match'' in his post-match analysis.

Tuffey was humble about his success. "I bowled to put the batsmen under pressure and it was great to get the wicket of Tendulkar. He's such a wonderful batsman. I got him a few times in New Zealand but to take his wicket on Indian pitches was special. I enjoyed it,'' said Tuffey.

The tall figure of Tuffey, pounding down menacingly, shall haunt the Indians for the remainder of the series. He showed immense character in extracting so much from a docile track and deserved the praise he earned from all quarters. The game will always be richer with such performers around, especially the likes of Tuffey who revel in adverse conditions.