The onus will be on Indian batsmen

India does not play in New Zealand often and a lot of fans are basing their worries on the disastrous results from the last trip in 2002-03. But there is reason to believe that the team which is in New Zealand is quite ready to change the trend. It has batsmen who can cope with the challenges that the conditions and the home bowlers can present.
Given the windy conditions they are likely to encounter, the fast bowlers will have to find the right line and length soon. I believe that controlling the line will perhaps be a shade more important than bowling the right length. And the batsmen may have to wait just that bit longer to play their strokes.
The onus really is on India’s batsmen to hold their strokes back a bit and play themselves in before unfurling their shots in all their glory. For them, adaptability will be all about waiting for the cricket ball to come to the bat rather than reach out for it and commit themselves.
This time around India has an attack that included Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma with a number of others ready to take up the mantle of the support swing bowlers. If Munaf Patel, Praveen Kumar and Irfan Pathan can deliver the goods in the limited over version, Patel, L Balaji and Dhaval Kulkarni are capable bowlers in Tests.
Sensibly, India has made the right noises, showing the right attitude to preparing for the games. “You just don’t turn up at 10am and win a game just because you are a better side on the paper,” says coach Gary Kirtsen. “Someone’s got to work hard out there. This team’s very aware of that. Everyone wants to be a game-breaker.”
As for the skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, he has shown healthy respect for the opposition that may be bereft of stars. “The New Zealand team is more about what it is as a unit, not as individuals,” he said. “That’s it asset. It plays well as a team. They back one other. It is a competitive side. It will be a good tour if the weather doesn’t spoil it.”
From a fan’s perspective, the good thing about the T20 games on February 25 and 27 is that those in India don’t have to wake up early to catch the action. Indeed, with all five ODIs being day-nighters, fans will also like that the fact that these games would be played through the day time in India.
As for the Tests, New Zealand Cricket’s move to let six Indian play a game each in its domestic tournament before the Tests will give them the chance to acclimatise better and is a laudable idea. Ironically, there were some who questioned the wisdom of Rajasthan Cricket Association in allowing Australia to train at its academy in Jaipur last year.
The schedule (all times IST):
February 25: T20, Christchurch, 1-30 p.m.
February 27: T20, Wellington, 1-30 p.m.
March 3: First ODI, Napier, 8-30 a.m.
March 6: Second ODI, Wellington, 8-30 a.m.
March 8: Third ODI, Christchurch, 8-30 a.m.
March 11: Fourth ODI, Hamilton, 8-30 a.m.
March 14: Firth ODI, Auckland, 8-30 a.m.
March 18-22: First Test, Hamilton, 5-30 a.m.
March 26-30: Second Test, Napier, 5-00 a.m.
April 3-7: Third Test, Wellington, 5-00 a.m.