Fleming dares Indian batsmen to prove on fast tracks

Published: Wednesday, December 18, 2002, 20:20 [IST]
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Hamilton: On the eve of the second and final cricket Test, New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming threw a challenge to the Indian batsmen saying they needed to be successful on fast and bouncy tracks in order to be called the best in the business just as any team must win a series in the Indian sub-continent to qualify as a world beater. The formidable Indian batting line-up was shot out for 161 and 121 in the ten-wicket loss in the first Test and Fleming said though the defeat had not lessened his respect for the Indian batsmen, they must do justice to their awesome reputation in the second Test where the pitch was believed to be even more faster than the one in Wellington. "You say you have got some of the best batsmen in the world. But if you cannot play on all surfaces, you are not the best," Fleming said in a pointed reference to the Indian team. "It is a challenge for sides coming across to get better. We know nobody likes playing on green, seaming wickets. But you could be the best players in the world only if you adapt well to such conditions," Fleming said. He said it was something like a team proving itself on the slow and turning tracks in the Indian sub-continent. "If we go to India, we got to get used to slow turning wickets. It is a bigger challenge than playing on good bouncy wicket. "It's all about adapting. Challenge of playing away from home is making that adaptation and try and put pressure on the opposition," he said. Fleming said he was aware that his own side, which was rated number three in the current Test rankings, can justify that tag only if it won a series in the sub- continent. "I think we are world beaters. But we are not consistent enough. It is exciting if we can achieve that in the next 12 months. We have a good chance in the sub- continent. "If we are a top-ranking side, we need to do it in all conditions," he said. But at present his mind was focussed solely on the next Test and he saw no reason to be apologetic about the fact that his side has an advantage of playing on one of the fastest surfaces in the world. "I have been promoting bounce. It allows the batsmen an opportunity to score square of the wicket. It also gives the bowlers an opportunity throughout the game. "Sometimes the Test matches around the world are pretty dominated by the bat and we are used to it. But if it is equal, you get a much better package of entertainment," he said, brushing aside suggestions that his side was doctoring the pitches to suit its needs. "This is not doctoring. This is our home condition. Nothing untoward is going on," he said. "These ones favour us because it is in our own backyard. We play here more than India." "Its not going to be wholly batsmen dominated games you want to see. While I do want better performances and scores of 400-500 posted, it may not be realistic." Fleming admitted that his side enjoyed a distinct advantage going into the second Test but asked his teammates to guard against complacency. "We are not in a position to be complacent. As a side we are realistic about our ability and what we need to do. Our respect for Indian batting has not diminished at all. We really respect the quality of opposition we are playing. "We are confident of putting them under pressure but we are also wary of what they can do if we don't," he said. Fleming has now won 18 of his 48 Tests, the most by any New Zealand captain, but he confessed he was nervous going into the second Test on Thursday. "When you win Test matches, captaincy is always special. But I am very nervous about this Test as well."

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