Christchurch: History may not be on their side but the Indian team under Mahendra Singh Dhoni would have clear edge over New Zealand in the forthcoming series featuring two Twenty20 Internationals, three Tests and five ODIs, according to a report.
History may not favour India who won their last Test series here back in 1968 but there are five key areas which make Dhoni's men the pre-series favourites, said 'New Zealand Herald'.
The newspaper listed Dhoni's captaincy, the formidable opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, the lethal new ball attack comprising Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma, the spin attack led by Harbhajan Singh and a redoubtable middle order including Sachin Tendulkar as the five reasons which might help the visitors end their success drought here.
Pointing out the Indian captain's status as the number one ODI batsman, it said Dhoni, both as a captain and batsman would prove a handful for New Zealand.
“Dhoni is not afraid to change things at short notice...He can be hard-headed. He was unafraid to go negative in the final Test against Australia when there was a chance of an Australian revival, standing behind the stumps down the leg side...he is a charismatic figure," it said.
The daily was full of praise for India's opening pair too.
The Delhi double act Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have shared opening stands of 50 or more in 15 of their last 31 partnerships. They present an interesting contrast. Sehwag, 30, is among cricket's most dashing batsmen...Only three men have scored 300 or more twice in a Test innings, Don Bradman, Brian Lara and Sehwag.
The new ball bowlers also find special mention as do the spinners.
“Javagal Srinath this week labelled Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma the world's best opening combination. You might say he would, given that he is a past leader of the Indian pace attack. South Africa might put up Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini, with backup from Morne Morkel, as an argument, but the Indian pair are a class act.
“Zaheer, 30, is a lively left arm swing bowler and capable batsman, who has been around for nine years; Sharma, 20, is the teen idol who burst on to the international stage in Australia last season, swinging the ball both ways at sharp pace from a height of 1.92m." The newspaper also sounded a note of caution to the hosts.
“If New Zealand fancy preparing green, seamers' pitches for the Tests, the ability of these two men might make them think twice."