ICL: Indian Cricket League

Kirsten backs balanced team to adapt


Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the India captain, and coach Gary Kirsten believe the team’s balance will ensure it remains competitive on the tour of New Zealand, regardless of the conditions. India’s batsmen failed to adapt to the wet, seamer-friendly conditions on the last tour in 2002-03 and lost the Tests 2-0 and the ODIs 5-2 - the biggest blip on their overseas record since the turn of the century.

“We are going there with the mindset that we are going to win. The great thing about this Indian team is that we have the right balance,” Kirsten said in Mumbai before the team’s departure for New Zealand. “We feel we can go and play in any conditions, on any surface, and be a competitive force. It is important to understand the weather there [New Zealand], which is very different to what it is here.”

India’s first Test tour to New Zealand was in 1967-68, a series which they won 3-1 - their first overseas series win. They have toured New Zealand six times since then, losing four Test series and drawing two. The current tour comprises three Tests, two Twenty20 internationals and five ODIs.

Only five players in India’s ODI squad - Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan - have prior experience of touring New Zealand and Dhoni wanted to focus on adapting to the conditions as soon as possible. “Every place has its own challenge,” Dhoni said. “The best [we can do] is to create an environment where we execute the plans and give our best during practice without thinking much about the results. It will be tough. It is a big tour for us.”

Kirsten said conditions had changed over the years and it would be important to work out a game plan. “I have seen two very different types of conditions in the last two series I watched there [New Zealand]. When India were last there, the pitches were seaming around a lot, but when West Indies toured New Zealand, the pitches looked really good and pretty flat. So it is a question of finding out what we are going to be confronted with. I know this time of year the weather gets a bit colder, there might be some rain, which will assist the seamers in terms of the moisture.”

India are a notch above New Zealand at No. 3 in the ICC’s ODI rankings, and several positions above them in the Test standings, but Kirsten said they would not be taking their hosts lightly. “New Zealand have always been competitive,” he said. “They are fighters who always give their best and it is worth being wary of them at home. We certainly won’t be taking them for granted.”

Dhoni, for his part, refused to lay claim to being favourites for the tour. “We would rather go as underdogs instead of putting undue pressure on ourselves,” he said

He also played down Daniel Vettori’s comments on him and Virender Sehwag thriving on the small grounds in New Zealand. “We know there are people in the side for whom any ground is small,” Dhoni said. “It is not the size of the ground, it is about form and the adaptability. We have individuals who can score big shots, rotate strike and change their gameplans as and when needed.”

Source:Cricket News

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