They arrived with batting greats Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman but left New Zealand losing two tests, five ODIs and a Super Max international.
On the eve of India's arrival in New Zealand, the Herald looks back on their disastrous tour in the summer of 2002-03.
The John Wright coached Indian side was coming off a home test series win over West Indies and a defeat in the seven-game ODI series. A few months earlier they had just been declared co-champions of the ICC Champions Trophy with hosts Sri Lanka after the final was rained out in two straight days, both times after Sri Lanka had completed their innings (yes, before Super Overs and boundary counts). Their last visit to New Zealand resulted in a 1-0 test series defeat in 1998-99 and a tied 2-2 result in the ODIs.
New Zealand, coached by Denis Aberhart, hadn't played a test match since claiming a historic 1-0 series win in the West Indies in June however their ODI form was dreadful having lost 10 of 11 games earlier in the year. Those were all away from home. They failed to get out of pool play at the Champions Trophy.
Both teams went into the tour with an eye on preparation for the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa which began a few weeks after the tour concluded, hence the decision to play seven ODIs.
The Cricket Max entree
India began their tour with a Super Max international at Christchurch's Jade Stadium, as you do. Cricket Max was the invention of New Zealand great Martin Crowe, and a precursor to the Twenty 20 format. The main difference was the batting format - 10 over innings and both teams batted twice, as well as a 'max zone' down the ground where runs were doubled.
The Black Caps made scores of 125/5 and 118/7 with newcomer Brendon McCullum opening in the second innings and smashing a quickfire 60 off just 28 balls. Tendulkar was brilliant with 72 off just 27 balls, including two eights and a 12, in India's first innings of 133/5 but they fell short in the chase reaching 87/6 from their 10 overs. Tendulkar also took five wickets across the two New Zealand innings earning man of the match honours.
Chris Cairns was the Max Blacks captain in a side that also featured Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan, Scott Styris, Jacob Oram, Shane Bond, Andre Adams, Chris Nevin, Tama Canning and Paul Hitchcock.
Result: New Zealand won by 21 runs
India had a warm-up game against Central Districts in Napier where they were bowled out for 209 in the first innings, a sign of things to come, before playing out a draw in the three-day match.
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The most notable tidbit from the fixture was when the side flew into Napier, the entire Indian squad were "left twiddling their thumbs as Ganguly commandeered the 40-seater team bus for his wife, baby and maid, and headed off to the hotel. Once the captain had been indulged, the bus returned to pick up the squad," the Herald reported at the time. And their gear failed to arrive in Napier meaning they had to cancel a training session.
Fair to say the team spirit may not have been high heading into the tests.
The first test was played at the Basin Reserve and the Black Caps rested Cairns who said he wasn't match-fit for back-to-back tests. It was probably the wrong decision as the match only lasted three days. It opened the door for Oram to make his debut.
India were bowled out for just 161, led by a stoic 76 from Dravid. Tendulkar was trapped LBW by Oram for eight, his first test wicket. New Zealand responded with 247, Mark Richardson made 89, before India were bundled out for 121. Tendulkar made 51. Richardson and Lou Vincent reached the 36-run target to complete a 10-wicket win.
A poor showing from the tourists. Surely they'd turn up for the second test at Hamilton? Nope.
Two days of rain in the lead-up in Hamilton was followed by the first day and much of the second being rained it.
When they finally played, what followed was staggering. For the first time in the history of test cricket, both sides failed to reach 100 in their first innings as India were bowled out for 99 before New Zealand replied with 94. Unsurprising it was the first-ever instance where a side had a first innings lead despite failing to reach triple figures. But India still lost by four wickets as New Zealand chased down 160 in the fourth innings with Robbie Hart having the pleasure of hitting the winning runs. Neither side produced an individual score past 50, the first time in 21 years.
Black Caps spinner Daniel Vettori played in both tests, but didn't bowl one ball. In the eight innings only one side batted long enough to face the second new ball.
"I don't think the pitch was that bad," Fleming said after the second test.
"But it did build a sense of uncertainty. With that amount of sideways movement you are always going to be frustrated. The quality of the Indian batsmen shows that."
Ganguly played it safe.
"I really don't want to make an excuse but the scores in both tests must be giving you the answer," Ganguly said.
"Just two 50s from the Indians and one from the New Zealanders in four innings would show it wasn't an easy time for the batsmen,'' he said.
First test - India 161 and 121, New Zealand 247 and 36/0.
Second test - Indian 99 and 154, New Zealand 94 and 160/6.
Most runs: Richardson 144
Most wickets: Daryl Tuffey 13
Result: New Zealand won series 2-0
Just under 30,000 fans turned up at Eden Park for the opening game of the seven-match series, a day-nighter. But it didn't even get to the 'night' part as India were sent in and lasted just 32.5 overs, bowled out for 108. Oram finished with 5-26 in his 10 overs and Vettori finally got to roll the left arm, taking 1-1 in a solitary over. New Zealand began their innings before the scheduled innings break time reaching 29-1 and struggled to the target after the intermission - winning by just three wickets.
"It's difficult to decide who might be feeling the more ill this morning - the New Zealand top-order batsmen or the Indian selectors," Richard Boock wrote in the Herald. "On a day in which the tourists were expected to shed their test series gloom and celebrate the start of the one-day series, they instead found themselves nursing another disappointment."
Onto Napier, the run-fest of the tour. New Zealand made 254 for nine and India were bowled out for 219 in the chase despite 108 from Sehwag. Both captains gave the pitch the 'thumbs-up'.
The third ODI in Christchurch was a near carbon copy of the first, India were bowled out for 108, after deciding to bat first, and New Zealand did a ropey job chasing it down, this time winning by five wickets.
"It wouldn't be a great surprise if the next Bollywood blockbuster was an adaption of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, starring Sourav Ganguly as the missing captain and his team-mates as random victims," Boock wrote in the Herald . "Almost a month into the much-awaited tour and there have still been no sightings of the stars we were promised, only a pale imitation from people who wear the faces of Ganguly and Yuvraj, but have obviously never played before in their lives."
Queenstown hosted it's maiden ODI for the fourth match however it lasted less than 69 overs. India were sent in on a pitch Ganguly called "a very good one-day wicket'' but were bowled out for 122. New Zealand chased it down in 25.4 overs and secured the seven-game series with three games to spare.
"It's been the worst phase since I've taken over as captain, and I've been captain for three years now,'' Ganguly said.
A month and four days into the tour, India finally had something to celebrate after a two wicket win at Westpac Stadium in game five. In another bizarre game in a bizarre tour, New Zealand were bowled out for 168 and India needed 34 not out from number nine Zahir Khan to see them home with a two-wicket win. Tendulkar returned after missing the earlier ODIs only be manage a 10-ball duck.
After the fifth ODI, Fleming had had enough with the conditions.
"It's tough. It's a unique season, the ball has dominated the bat in the nets and in the middle. Guys are frustrated but understand what they need to do.
"A score of 180 isn't ideal but is probably a score that would have been competitive throughout the series.
"We're working hard on it, it's certainly not an excuse but it's very difficult.''
Little changed for the sixth game at Eden Park. New Zealand managed a slow-going 199/9 in their 50 overs and India chased it down with one wicket and one ball to spare. The series wasn't providing runs but it was certainly offering close encounters.
On the eve of the seventh ODI at Seddon Park, groundsman Doug Strachan went into bat for his colleagues, saying they had been unfairly criticised.
Strachan said he was "100 percent happy'' with the pitch for final ODI.
"The weather's been difficult, and some grounds appallingly difficult. With bowlers dominating the batsmen it's been a cycle spiralling downwards,'' Strachan told NZPA.
Strachan admitted the pitch he produced for the first test wasn't up to standard after two days of rain in the leadup, and at other grounds in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch the men in charge of the pitch had also struggled.
"The groundsmen throughout the country have had an uncomfortable, difficult year. It hasn't been much fun at all.''
"I'm not going to be happy tomorrow unless I see 500 runs in the day, and I'm even expecting 550 because it's that good a track.'
India were bowled out for 122 and New Zealand chased it down in the 29th over with the loss of just four wickets - the run total falling 270-odd runs shy of Strachan's prediction.
Seven ODIs and India's highest team score was 219. Ganguly averaged 8.28 in seven innings with a high score of 23, Dravid averaged 16.57 and a high score of 21 across seven innings and Tendulkar managed just two runs in three innings with a best score of one.
Their bowlers probably weren't complaining. Javagal Srinath finished the ODI series with 18 wickets for 201 runs at an average of 11.16.
Kyle Mills, who finished the series with nine wickets in six matches, recalls the tour and has an inkling pitches were prepared to give New Zealand some 'home advantage' against an amazing batting lineup.
"I was a young guy and wasn't privy to those conversations but they were very green and they did move a lot compared to the year before or the year after. So I think those pitches were possibly prepared for us to combat their very strong batting lineup. Sehwag, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman and Tendulkar," he told the Herald.
Of course he didn't have an issue with the green pitches being the bowler, earning a spot in the Cricket World Cup squad after the successful series.
"The World Cup was the big focus to make the squad and I guess a green wicket was always going to help me," Mills added.
"Good-bye to New Zealand and its green tops, seaming pitches, and awkward bounce. Good-bye to Daryl Tuffey too. I am sure that most Indian batsmen have nightmares of facing the tall burly fast bowler," Erapalli Prasanna wrote for Cricinfo .
"It is the fact that India surrendered so meekly to a very ordinary New Zealand team that annoys me so. Make no mistake: if both the teams were to carry their current form into the World Cup, they will struggle miserably," he added.
"It was probably easy for New Zealand cricket chief Martin Snedden to blame the poor quality of the pitches than the lack of technique of his own batsmen or of the visitors. But finding such escape routes will do neither team any good."
1st ODI: India 108 (32.5 overs), New Zealand 109/7 (37.4)
2nd ODI: New Zealand 254/9 (50 overs), India 219 (43.4)
3rd ODI: India 108 (41.1 overs), New Zealand 109/5 (26.5)
4th ODI: India 122 (43.4 overs), New Zealand 123/3 (25.4)
5th ODI: New Zealand 168 (43.4 overs), India 169/8 (43.2)
6th ODI: New Zealand 199/9 (50 overs), India 200/9 (48.5/49)
7th ODI: India 122 (44.5 overs), New Zealand 125/4 (28.4)
Most runs: Sehwag 299
Most wickets: Srinath 18
Result: New Zealand won series 5-2
At the World Cup, India finished second in their group losing only to Australia in pool play and effectively knocked out New Zealand with a seven-wicket win at Centurion in their Super Sixes match-up. On that occasion it was the Black Caps who struggled when batting first, being bowled out for 146. New Zealand's decision not to play a pool play game in Kenya, accepting a defeat, didn't help their chances in the Super Sixes where they lost to Australia despite having them 84-7.
India beat Kenya in the semifinals to meet Australia for a second time, only to lose the final by 125 runs.
Ganguly captained India in both ODI and test forms until September 2005.
It was another six years before India returned to New Zealand soil but it was a more successful tour, with the visitors winning a five-ODI series 4-1 and the three-test series 1-0, highlighted by a brilliant 160 by Tendulkar in the first test win in Hamilton.
That was their last test win in New Zealand as rain denied them the chance to take the final two wickets to complete the third test victory in Wellington.
"India may have said to New Zealand Cricket 'you can't have pitches like that again otherwise we're not coming back again,'" Mills told the Herald.
"The funding model works where you need India playing in your country. For the next series they were the flattest ever wickets you could come across and was the opposite result - they did really well in our own conditions".
New Zealand didn't play another seven-game ODI series at home until 2015 when they beat Sri Lanka 4-2 on the eve of the 2015 World Cup.
That was the third and final Cricket Max International with New Zealand hosting Australia in the first men's Twenty20 international three years later at Eden Park.