With fans eager for a fresh season to start off, all eyes are on the upcoming series which is fast approaching. The India-New Zealand Test series is now just a month away. On paper India look a formidable side and with their recent performances they look certain to dominate the series.
Or would they? Certainly the odds are in their favour as even the mighty Kangaroos where sitting ducks on turning tracks and with their humiliation in New Zealand still fresh it could very well be pay back time for many players; what with the Kiwis having not won a single series here. But having a fixed mindset before the onset of the tour would be the biggest mistake one can make. New Zealand has played real good cricket in the subcontinent of late and had also won the series in the West Indies - no mean task. They might not be as good as the Aussies but the Kiwis do pack a punch as a collective unit.
It is this collective team work, a thing India quickly needs to adapt, that has seen them through many a difficult hurdle. It's not the same team that used to be so heavily dependent on the brilliant Chris Cairns. The Kiwis have shown great mettle and character in their continuous climb up in the ratings even without Cairns. In Stephen Fleming they have one of the shrewdest minds in the game, a man who leads from the front and held in high regard by the cricketing fraternity. Much credit could go to him in shaping New Zealand cricket. Ably supported by his mates the Kiwis could pose a threat or two. On the other hand to refute this claim would be to say that the New Zealanders' are good in the shorter version of the game.
To some extent this is true as they have struggled over the years to make an impression in Test match cricket. While they did beat the Indians back on Christmas eve last year, one should not forget the state of the pitches the Indians where greeted with. This time though it would be a totally different ball game for the Kiwis. Expecting green tops in India is a far cry from reality. Not known as great players against spin their task is cut out. Indians can take heart from the proven fact that no great bowler has been able to make a lasting impression on Indian tracks. No one can deny the fact that India has the best batting line up in the world and that it has made even the potent of attacks look mediocre (at home).
With Shane Bond in the injury list the Kiwi bowling attack looks susceptible. It's going to be a mammoth task for them if they are to succeed in containing the Indian batsmen who feast on slow tracks. Adding salt to the wound is the news that their mainstay Nathan Astle is on the injury list too. What the New Zealanders have up their sleeves would be known only after the first ball is bowled. Fielding&fitness are two aspects of the game where the Kiwis stand head and shoulders above the Indians.
But it sill remains to be seen whether they would be fit enough to play the Tiger's at home. What is obvious is that the team who gets a grip on the first Test has a definite edge in the series. John Wright and his men with their rich pool of talent and experience look well set to do just that. Whether or not the Kiwis can give a fight depends how quickly they adapt to the conditions. Whatever the outcome, the series promises to produce runs, runs and more runs!