Wellington: Indian cricket coach John Wright said on Sunday the team needed batsmen capable of handling fast pitches if it hoped to square the two-Test series against New Zealand.
India trails 0-1 in the series following their crushing 10-wicket defeat inside three days in the opening Test on a fast and bouncy pitch at the Basin Reserve here on Saturday. The second and last Test starts at Hamilton on Thursday. "You have got to occupy the crease on such tracks. That's very important. It's all about occupying the crease," said Wright, a former New Zealand captain. The Indian batting collapsed twice against the New Zealand pace attack on a lively track as the tourists managed just 161 in the first innings and 121 in the second. Only two could stay at the crease for more than two hours in a dismal Indian batting performance, with Rahul Dravid scoring 76 in the first innings and batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar 51 in the second. "Obviously, we want somebody to stay at the wicket," Wright said after his team's practice session here. "You have to be positive about the conditions. You have to take them as they are. You have to be positive in your mind, no matter who you are playing against and on what kind of pitches. "We fought our way back into the match when we restricted their lead to 86. It was not unsurmountable or beyond us, but batsmen had to stay." Wright said it was essential to see the new ball off in these conditions because runs could be made once the team had got off to a good start. "The opportunity of winning the Test series has already gone since it's only a two- match series and we can now only hope of levelling it. "To do that, we desperately need to get through this new-ball phase. It's very important because runs could be scored more freely later in the innings as we saw in the game," Wright said. Indian openers Virender Sehwag and Sanjay Bangar failed to provide a solid start, putting on two runs in the first innings and 23 in the second. "You have got to get through the first hour. That's an important thing. It's a matter of getting in and judging the line, letting the ball go and getting a real feel of the wicket," Wright said. "The pitches are different here from the ones we are used to playing at home. The wickets here seam a lot and they (New Zealand) like playing on seaming pitches. We have got to get used to these conditions." Wright said seamer Tinu Yohannan had a chance of playing in the second Test as the bowling in the first match had left a lot to be desired. "He (Yohannan) is coming on very well. He bowled well in the warm-up game at Napier. It was a difficult decision (whether to include him in team for the first Test), but he is in running for the next Test," Wright explained. Yohannan, who has so far played only two Tests, could replace either Ashish Nehra or Ajit Agarkar to support left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan. Left-arm fast bowler Nehra went wicketless in the first Test, while Agarkar bagged just one wicket.
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