India has potential to fight back in series: Crowe

Published: Tuesday, December 17, 2002, 21:20 [IST]
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Hamilton: New Zealand is determined to wrap up a clean sweep over India with victory in the second and final Test on Thursday.

"We would have loved to win the series 2-0 from the word go and that's a possibility now," New Zealand Cricket manager Jeff Crowe said Tuesday. The hosts lead 1-0 in the short series following their crushing 10-wicket victory in the opening Test at Wellington on Saturday. "Probably 1-0 would have been fine, but as we are now ahead we've to consider that the next option is 2-0. We're in a better position to do that. You can always argue that an odd number series is better than a two-Test one as it gives India a chance to win it. It's a bit like two rugby matches and if you win one, you can't lose it. "We're in that lucky position now. We can be confident that the series can only be drawn if India plays well here. Otherwise, we've won it." Crowe said he believed India had the potential to fight back as it was capable of playing well in different conditions. "I believe it is a much better side now than it was a few years ago when it is touring," said Crowe, a former New Zealand captain who scored 1,601 runs in 39 Tests with three centuries. "Its performance in the West Indies and England has shown it is now a much more resilient side away from home. It has world-class cricketers and can fight back." India gained a 1-0 lead in the West Indies before losing the five-Test series 2-1 and then drew a tough four-match series 1-1 in England this year. Crowe said the Indian batting looked strong despite twice collapsing against pace on a fast and bouncy track in the opening match. "We've high respect for their batsmen," said Crowe, 44. "What they need is a good start. The key is to get through the new ball and then it's an opportunity for middle-order batsmen to score runs. "Rahul Dravid is a technically-gifted cricketer. I think his ability to play correct cricket makes him one of the finest batsmen to watch in the world today. "Sachin Tendulkar wouldn't fault as a technician. But I guess we have been used to Sachin for so many years now that you sort of say 'it is expected'. It's a bit like Tiger Woods hitting down the middle of a fairway." Crowe was all praise for his pacemen for twice running through the Indian batting line-up and setting up his team's emphatic win at Wellington. "The wicket here also appears to have pace and bounce," he said. "It'll help seam bowlers. We might see some turn on the fourth or fifth day, depending on the weather. But our bowlers did a good job in the last match." The hosts were well-served by their fast bowlers in the first Test, with Shane Bond taking seven wickets in the match and Daryl Tuffey and debutant Jacob Oram five apiece. "Bond is a huge asset for us," said Crowe. "He's a fiery fast bowler, has got good pace and good rhythm. He's pretty accurate and only going to get better and better. He was well supported at Wellington."

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