Bangalore: The India-New Zealand one day international (ODI) series will start in Rajkot on Friday. Watching Test cricket is a strenuous exercise for most modern lovers of the game. After the three-test Series, the ODI addicts must be getting ready for their favourite pastime. The Test Series concluded only on November 2 at Ahmedabad. Now, the players are sharpening their reflexes and cricketing brains to exhibit their skill to adopt to this version of the game.
In the earlier days of the ODIs, many a team struggled to switch over from test cricket to ODI in the given time. Those were the days when the players faced this challenge of changing their approach to these two different styles of cricket (tests and ODIs). But those early days have gone. Most players took little or no time to switch their style in an admirable fashion and so instant cricket became an instant success and now enjoys a prime spot in the 'entertainment" list of cricket followers.
There were, no doubt, few players who just could not adapt themselves to these two spheres of the sport. Hence, there emerged the ODI and test specialists in almost all the international teams. In the India team, the ODI specialists, Robin Singh and Nikhil Chopra are back in the team in places of Debang Gandhi (opening batsman) and Harbhajan Singh (off-spinner). Sachin Tendulkar, who bats at number four in test matches, will be back to his famous position.
He will open with his popular partner Sourav Ganguly who bats at number five in tests. These two have earned the reputation as one of the best pairs in modern cricket. Rahul Dravid, one of test cricket's classical batsmen, had taken a long time to adopt himself to the ODIs and was out of it for a little longer than a season. He got into the groove as smoothly as only he can. From the start of this year he has been excelling in this form of cricket that he emerged as number one in the World Cup 1999 rating.
He has cemented his place in his own inimitable fashion. Ajay Jadeja, ever since he made his international debut some nine seasons ago, is being hailed as an excellent ODI player and even captained India in the ODIs on several occasions. In the recently concluded India-NZ test series he played only the final match and made 25 runs from two innings.
India's main bowlers Javagal Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad and Anil Kumble have established themselves, long ago, as experts in both versions of the game. Kumble suffered a bad patch in ODIs this season. But, his excellent show in the test Series (20 wickets) clearly suggested that he had regained his touch. Debashish Mohanty, a medium pacer, is fast becoming an ODI specialist and Ajit Agarkar, another paceman, has recovered from injury and is back in the team.
India enjoys a variety in its attack and can afford to field various combinations in this five-match series. It is also a golden opportunity for India to prepare well for the triangular series (Australia, Pakistan and India) in Australia. New Zealand would be missing its gifted star Craig McMillan. This young enterprising batsman was injured during the test series and was replaced by ODI specialist Gary Stead.
New Zealand's other ODI specialists are Roger Twose and Scott Styris. Mathew Bell, Andrew Penn and Paul Wiseman who were part of New Zealand's test team are not included for the ODI series. Chris Harris, is a fine ODI player but played the final test, like India's Jadeja.