The first test begins tonight and the Indians will have some selection headaches. Dhoni and his team have had a fantastic one year in ODI’s but the same cannot be said in the traditional format of the game. Indian performance in tests last year has been patchy. The year 2008 began with India losing to Australia in the controversial Sydney game and followed that up with a fantastic win in Perth. The next series India played was against the South Africans at home which they drew 1-1.
The team under Kumble was very inconsistent in that series too. They had the highs like in Perth and lows such as the 3 day defeat in Ahmadabad. The Srilankan series also saw the Indians performing inconsistently and lose 2-1 to the home side. The year ended on a high note with the wins against the Australians (2-0) and against the English (1-0) under Dhoni’s captaincy.
Even though the year ended well, the performance of the team in test cricket was rather inconsistent overall last year. Now India plays New Zealand at the start of 2009 after winning the one day series convincingly. This is an important and most significant series for the Indian team in a long time. The scars of the 2003 series still fresh in the minds of the players and the fans needs to be erased. The team’s quest to become No 1 in all forms of the game can be majorly hurt if they lose here in New Zealand.
New Zealand though will be happy to be underdogs and let Dhoni face all the pressure. Daniel Vettori will be thinking that no one will blame them if they lose to the No 3 side in the world and a win will give them a huge push up in the rankings. Dhoni will know that this series very important for his team and his captaincy.
This Indian team though will be confident and would want to turn in some consistent performances in this series. Dhoni will know that if they play up to their potential then they should win this comfortably. The Indians though have few selection headaches before the start of the play tonight. The first one will be that of a batsman. It will be between Yuvraj and Vijay.
Yuvraj though will be the first choice but looking at his performance on the only pitch which aided seam movement is not that encouraging. M Vijay though made a solid 90 odd for the NZ state side in a domestic game. So the choice will be interesting but I feel that Yuvraj will be still selected for the first game. The second selection will also be an interesting one between Kulkarni and Balaji. Munaf probably will not be in the running for the third seamer spot after his inconsistent performance in the ODI’s.
Kulkarni had a good spell in the domestic game in NZ where he picked up 3 wickets and Balaji also turned in decent performance in the game he played. So this is also going to be an interesting selection for the team management. I am thinking they might go with Balaji for the first game or probably even go with Munaf to see how he goes. We have to wait till the morning of the play to find out the same.
All in all rain permitting its going to be an interesting contest. I hope that we get a full game without any rain interruptions and may the best team win. I am just fed up of seeing high scoring draws, so hopefully this is not one of them.