The equation in the upcoming series between India and New Zealand is getting interesting and spicy. Former New Zealand batsman Martin Crowe is hopeful of a close encounter. He has said that the pitches should be green and should assist swing in all the matches.
In his column in ESPN Cricinfo, he has opined that it really does not matter that currently India is ranked number 2 in Tests whereas New Zealand stands at number 8.
It is also pertinent to add that Team India is visiting New Zealand after a gap of about 4 years and they have only three players who have played in New Zealand before – MS Dhoni, Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma.
Crowe said, “New Zealand should focus their preparation on exposing a batting line-up that has never batted in these conditions. Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner (or Adam Milne as back up) are the men to target India’s top six. They are confident, fit and work well together. Most importantly, they can produce a significant amount of swing to trouble any top player early in his innings”.
He also added, “With respect to an Indian attack that is ageing a little with Zaheer back in, local groundsmen should be watering freely, just as the ones in India remove life from their pitches”.
This series, if played on green pitches, could well be as memorable as any we have seen in this part of the world for a while.
Crowe said, “The home side must aim for a series win. While I am not big on unrealistic expectations, I believe that in home conditions all teams must set that goal” He also opined that Indian bowlers shouldn’t be discounted by any stretch.
While imposing his confidence on the batsmen, he said if better footwork isn’t shown by Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford, their places will become open to scrutiny. He is hopeful of seeing a neck to neck contest. He emphasized that Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli against Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor is likely to be an interesting battle.
Crowe is of the opinion that both countries will adopt good strategies and the ground fielding could make a difference. He insisted, “The fielding unit is another vital cog, and the team that makes an impact first could well be the one that gets the jump”.
We also hope that this is a closely fought series – but of course, we wish that it tilts towards India.Published 16 Jan 2014, 23:57 IST