So India come to New Zealand even stronger than last time. All the talk is of them nabbing the no. 1 spot in the near future. And we’re well aware of where we sit in the rankings. However, the Indians have been notably short in bluster in the lead up the series. All the talk has been coming from Andy Moles. A tour of New Zealand is just the sort of experience that can bring a team back down to Earth. And the Indians are well aware of that and are perhaps even – could I be right in saying – a little scared.
Regardless of how the pitches are prepared, conditions in New Zealand will not favour India. This will go some way towards evening the odds. Suhas has made predictions for the results in the various rubbers. He’s probably got them all right. I am hoping that we can steal a test, but I’m not sticking my neck out and predicting that.
Players to watch
Martin Guptill/Tim McIntosh: I’m making a bold prediction of our test openers here, but both these players have impressed earlier in the season. What sort of a difference will it make to our test performances if we could build some decent opening partnerships?
Chris Martin/Kyle Mill/Mark Gillespie: If we have exciting promise at the top of our batting line up, our opening bowling spot is practically non-existent. A serious problem.
Ishant Sharma: He’s still learning the game really, but even his natural ability – and his height (1.95 m) – could make him devastating in bowler friendly conditions.
Virender Sehwag: Has been down in form over the past couple of years but has been keeping in touch with some massive scores. Averages 27 against New Zealand, so needs a lot of runs to fix that.
A contentious selection. Replaces Chris Martin, who, popular opinion has it, was hard done by to be dropped for this series. And beyond his selection, Dizzy’s popularity is divided. I like him, but then I’m a Wellingtonian. He is a wicket taker – he has over 200 for Wellington. But he gives away runs, and he does it by bowling too short too often. Can such an unsophisticated approach work at international level?
Plenty’s been said about O’Brien already. He was a contentious selection last year as his earlier efforts for the Black Caps weren’t impressive. However, he came good during the tour of England. He now largely replicates his excellent first-class record in tests.
It is tough being the second spinner behind Vettori. And it’s not going to get easier. In an international career already two years old, Jeets has played only 5 tests.
Back in the team, leapfrogging both Martin and Southee (and O’Brien in the bowling line up). Very surprising. He’s in because of his batting, which is fair enough because his batting is decent, but he’s selected as a bowler despite being overlooked in Australia behind two others, which just shows the contortions you can get into when your selections get too clever.
Check out the first three rounds of the round up (in one convenient package) back at Mike on Cricket.
Round 4 of the State Championship consisted of two games, while Auckland played the West Indies. CD beat Otago to go to the top of the table, despite Wgtn being in crushing form (averaging nearly 500/innings over 3 games). The innings of the week however was scored by Auckland, who swatted away the WI bowlers on a pitch that is oozing runs.
ND 310 & 198
Wgtn win by inns and 12 runs
Otago 357 & 281
CD 378 & 261/2
CD win by 8 wickets
Top bat: It is hard to go past Richard Jones’ double hundred, but Josh Brodie’s maiden century deserves mention. Franklin’s 160 may have helped his recall to the Black Caps.
Top bowl: Gillespie’s 8/124 match.