Tag Archives: Kiwis

New Zealand test series – Team selection on the expected lines

The team for the test series against New Zealand was announced earlier today and there weren’t many surprises in the squad. As expected Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman return to take their middle order spots. Sehwag and Gambhir will open the innings and Virat Kohli will take the number 5 slot which he made his own in Australia earlier this year.

C Pujara will most likely occupy the number 3 position vacated by Rahul Dravid. Pujara has been in brilliant form with the bat and made a huge impact in the India A tour to West Indies earlier this year. Rahane also finds a spot in the squad and so does Suresh Raina. Even though it is unlikely that either of them will make it to the final X1. The bowling though had couple of surprises. The selection of Piyush Chawla is a major surprise. He hasn’t been considered for selection for quite some time now and his inclusion is for sure a surprise. The selection of Ishant Sharma also is something which is unexpected as it was said that he hadn’t fully recovered from the ankle injury he had sustained after the Australian tour.

Ravi Aswin and Pragyan Ojha will handle the spin department and Zaheer will share the new ball with Umesh Yadav. It will be interesting to see what combination the Indians will employ in the first test. Ishant has been out of cricket for a long time and has had no match practice. In all probability India will go with 2 spin, 2 pace attack in the first test.

The batting also will not have many changes, except for Pujara taking the number 3 slot. Rahane might have a shot at number 3 but it is highly unlikely he will make it to the X1. This is probably the best available squad at the moment and the only absentee is Rohit Sharma who travelled with the test team to Australia. Rohit did not do himself any favor by performing poorly in the ODI’s this year and also did not do well in the India A tour to West Indies.

The team looks quite strong for a home series and considering the recent performances of the Kiwis in test cricket it will be hard to bet against the hosts to win convincingly. The New Zealand team also will be without their ace spinner Dan Vettori and it will be interesting to see how this inexperienced team will fare in the tough subcontinent conditions. This will be an important series for both the teams. New Zealand will want to put up a good show after their disappointing performance in West Indies and India would want to begin the season on a winning note. The Indian ODI team had a winning start to the season and it will be interesting to see if the test team follows suit.

Probable Indian X1 for the first test:

Sehwag, Gambhir, Pujara, Tendulkar, Kohli, VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni (Capt., Wkt.), Ravi Aswin, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav, Pragyan Ojha

Reserves:

Piyush Chawla, Ishant Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina

Series gone wrong for the home team

The second test between India and New Zealand just concluded at Hyderabad earlier this week and it was another boring draw. India, who were expected to roll New Zealand over considering the huge difference in the rankings have found this series pretty hard till now. With two draws in two games, the kiwis will be swelling with pride as none of the teams baring South Africa have gone away from India with a drawn series in recent times. The major problem for the home team has been the pitches and the lack of bite in the bowling department.

India has always been a tough place to tour for the western teams but in recent times with pitches getting flatter, teams have started to adapt much better. New Zealand has always done well in India as their previous tour was also a drawn series. Did the Indian team expect an easy series? Probably yes. Even though all the Indian players came in the media and claimed that they were not taking the Kiwis lightly, I am sure in their minds they thought it was going to be a piece of cake. The intensity was missing and the players seemed to go through the motions. It was just couple of brilliant innings from Harbajan which has helped India from trailing in this series.

So two draws in two games, which has been a very rare sight in the past year or so in India. Almost every series has produced a result and most of the games have been result oriented. So if we analyze closely, the problem is that both the teams have struggled to bowl out the opponents on flat pitches. Indians always have had issues with their bowling and it has shown through in this series. Harbajan has struggled to pick wickets, Sreesanth has been very inconsistent, and Ojha has been steady but doesn’t seem like someone who will run through sides. New Zealand again is a one man bowling team, in spite of an inspired spell by Martin in the first test; they still rely heavily on Vettori to pick wickets. Indian bowling though has been really disappointing, especially in the second test.

India was 122 runs in front of New Zealand with two days to go and you would expect the number 1 team in the world to win from that position. Indian bowling looked toothless and did not look like taking any wickets in the absence of Zaheer. Zaheer has been India’s stand out performer for Indian over the last 2 years and without him the bowling looks toothless. The below table shows the Indian bowling performances over the past couple of years:

Performance of Indian bowlers over the last 2 years

If you look at the list you will see that Zaheer has been exceptional, considering that India has played most of the games in the subcontinent. But the rest have been pretty ordinary. India’s premier spinner Harbajan averages little over 35 and the rest to put it mildly, have been mediocre. So how have India been winning games? Well the answer is pretty simple, the batting. Indian batsmen have been in supreme touch over the past couple of years and they have racked up huge scores. When India batted first they have scored big and even when they had to chase a big score they have matched the opponent or scored more than them. So the Indian bowlers have had the luxury of picking up wickets at an expensive average. So on an average the Indian bowling combination (Zaheer, Sreesanth/Ishant, Ojha and Harbajan) has to concede 374 runs for their 10 wickets going by their record over the last 2 years. It’s Hardly a mark of a top ranked test team.

India now needs to win the final game at Nagpur to win the series which is not the situation the team would have assumed at the start of the series. The team bowling combination has to be looked at seriously with an important series against the saffers looming large next month. The Indians would also be hoping that Zaheer is fit for the all important series as he has been our premier bowler over the last couple of years. I hope that we do better in the final game and win the series against New Zealand which will give us some confidence going into the next series against South Africa

India on the verge of winning the test series

India are on the verge of winning their first test series in New Zealand as the hosts are struggling at 167/4 at the end of Day 4 chasing an impossible 617 to win. The Indian batting and the bowling has been far superior to the Kiwis in this tour which was far more evident in this test match. The Indians got to 379 in their first innings thanks to the lower order batting.

The Indians were reeling at 204 for the loss of 6 wickets at one point but a brilliant partnership between Dhoni and Harbajan got the visitors over 300. Both of them scored half centuries. Harbajan and Zaheer continued the agony for the Kiwis as India ended up with 379 in their first innings. The Kiwis though in their response were rolled over for 197 due to a brilliant spell of swing bowling from Zaheer. Zaheer was ably assisted by Harbajan who picked up vital 3 wickets.

The Indians batted well in the second innings riding on a brilliant hundred from Ghambir to set 617 to chase for the Kiwis. There are few criticisms on Dhoni as he batted on longer than required on the 4th morning but I guess he knew what he was doing. I guess even if we had 18 more overs in the day we couldn’t have gotten much further. Probably New Zealand would have ended up with more on the board.

Even though there is forecast for rain tomorrow, I hope that we get enough overs in to dismiss the Kiwis as it will be a well deserved victory for the Indian team. This will also be the 100th test win for the Indians and their first test series victory in NZ in 48 years. I guess there is lots of history in the making tomorrow and a well earned series victory in sight for the men in blue.

Day 2 – India gain a slight advantage

Three half centuries from the top order gave India a slender advantage in the first test match against New Zealand in Hamilton. The Indians began the day 250 runs behind the Kiwi total and soon lost Sehwag to a brilliant fielding from Franklin. Sehwag and Ghambir had a slight misunderstanding which left the former way short of his crease. Rahul Dravid joined Ghambir in the middle with the score on 37/1 and forged a good partnership to take India to 108/1 at lunch.
After lunch the Dravid-Ghambir combination took India to 142 when Gautam Ghambir was caught behind of Martin for 72. It was a good innings from Ghambir but he played one shot too many. Sachin Tendulkar joined Dravid with the score on 142/2 and took India to 177 when Dravid was bowled of a beauty from Ian O’ Brian for 66 leaving the visitors 177/3. Laxman and Sachin took India to tea.

After tea India lost Laxman for 30 with the score on 238. Laxman was scratchy throughout his knock of 30 and was dropped once of a difficult chance in the boundary by Ian O’ Brian. Yuvraj and Sachin took India to stumps with the visitors just 1 run behind the New Zealand total. Sachin accelerated at the end of the day when the new ball was taken to remain 70 not out with his 42nd hundred in sight. He is currently joined by Yuvraj who is unbeaten on 8 and would like to push the lead beyond hundred tomorrow.

The first session again will be really important and the Indians would like to keeps wickets in hand. The pitch has something for the seam bowlers and was constantly encouraging them throughout the day. Daniel Vettori will be happy with the bowler’s performance as they were able to keep the Indians to just 249 runs for the day. The best bowler for the hosts was Chris Martin who finished with 2 wickets and Ian O’ Brian who took the wicket of a set Rahul Dravid. Kyle Mills was disappointing and Vettori was not effective. Ryder bowled a few overs but was not that threatening.

Day 3 will determine which team has the upper hand as the game is slightly in India’s favor. Couple of wickets in the first session will give the hosts a chance to get back into the game. It will be interesting to see the approach of the Indians tomorrow as they were really subdued on day 2.

Day 2 – India gain a slight advantage

Three half centuries from the top order gave India a slender advantage in the first test match against New Zealand in Hamilton. The Indians began the day 250 runs behind the Kiwi total and soon lost Sehwag to a brilliant fielding from Franklin. Sehwag and Ghambir had a slight misunderstanding which left the former way short of his crease. Rahul Dravid joined Ghambir in the middle with the score on 37/1 and forged a good partnership to take India to 108/1 at lunch.

After lunch the Dravid-Ghambir combination took India to 142 when Gautam Ghambir was caught behind of Martin for 72. It was a good innings from Ghambir but he played one shot too many. Sachin Tendulkar joined Dravid with the score on 142/2 and took India to 177 when Dravid was bowled of a beauty from Ian O’ Brian for 66 leaving the visitors 177/3. Laxman and Sachin took India to tea.

After tea India lost Laxman for 30 with the score on 238. Laxman was scratchy throughout his knock of 30 and was dropped once of a difficult chance in the boundary by Ian O’ Brian. Yuvraj and Sachin took India to stumps with the visitors just 1 run behind the New Zealand total. Sachin accelerated at the end of the day when the new ball was taken to remain 70 not out with his 42nd hundred in sight. He is currently joined by Yuvraj who is unbeaten on 8 and would like to push the lead beyond hundred tomorrow.

The first session again will be really important and the Indians would like to keeps wickets in hand. The pitch has something for the seam bowlers and was constantly encouraging them throughout the day. Daniel Vettori will be happy with the bowler’s performance as they were able to keep the Indians to just 249 runs for the day. The best bowler for the hosts was Chris Martin who finished with 2 wickets and Ian O’ Brian who took the wicket of a set Rahul Dravid. Kyle Mills was disappointing and Vettori was not effective. Ryder bowled a few overs but was not that threatening.

Day 3 will determine which team has the upper hand as the game is slightly in India’s favor. Couple of wickets in the first session will give the hosts a chance to get back into the game. It will be interesting to see the approach of the Indians tomorrow as they were really subdued on day 2.

India look to make it 4-0

The Indian team who has already won the series 3-0 would want to keep the momentum going by winning the final ODI at Auckland. The Indians probably will rest few of their key players but still would want to retain the core. Dhoni would probably want to rest Zaheer and give Munaf or Balaji or Kulkarni (If available for ODI’s) a chance as it will help him to decide on the third seamer for the first test.

I guess Ishant will still play as he looked very rusty in the 4th game. The batting though will be interesting but I would assume that Dhoni and Kirsten would not want to make too many changes in the squad. The Kiwis confidence has been dented in the ODI’s and India would want to leave it that way. Any let up in pressure would give the hosts enormous confidence for the upcoming test series. The Indians though would want to guard against complacency which could creep into their games.

In the past year or so they have not been that good in the dead rubbers. In Srilanka last year the Indians were leading 3-1 going into the final game and lost badly chasing a modest target. Earlier this year they repeated the same mistake as after leading 4-0 they let up the pressure in the final game. This series though is not just about the ODI’s but since the test series is just around the corner the Indians would want the New Zealanders to be under constant pressure to win.

This has been yet another great series for the Indians but there have been some flaws which were eclipsed by the batters. The fielding has been very poor, catches have gone down at crucial times, bowling has lacked discipline but in spite of that they have won which should give the team confidence. But to be at the top Gary Kirsten needs to work on ironing out the flaws. The Indian one day team is made of youngsters and should not be having any issues with fielding.

The New Zealand captain though would be looking for a win to end the series. They have been battered to submission by the Indian batting but would want to end the series on a high. The test series is just around the corner and a win here would give the team a lot of confidence. Vettori would know that and would want to reverse the trend a little bit. The key for the home team to win is to bowl with more discipline and get rid of the Indian openers fast which they haven’t been able to do since the Twenty20 games.

Once they do that the Indian middle order will be under pressure and would have to consolidate. Lets hope that this game is also as exciting as the previous ones and I am predicting an Indian win again.

India look to make it 4-0

The Indian team who has already won the series 3-0 would want to keep the momentum going by winning the final ODI at Auckland. The Indians probably will rest few of their key players but still would want to retain the core. Dhoni would probably want to rest Zaheer and give Munaf or Balaji or Kulkarni (If available for ODI’s) a chance as it will help him to decide on the third seamer for the first test.

I guess Ishant will still play as he looked very rusty in the 4th game. The batting though will be interesting but I would assume that Dhoni and Kirsten would not want to make too many changes in the squad. The Kiwis confidence has been dented in the ODI’s and India would want to leave it that way. Any let up in pressure would give the hosts enormous confidence for the upcoming test series. The Indians though would want to guard against complacency which could creep into their games.

In the past year or so they have not been that good in the dead rubbers. In Srilanka last year the Indians were leading 3-1 going into the final game and lost badly chasing a modest target. Earlier this year they repeated the same mistake as after leading 4-0 they let up the pressure in the final game. This series though is not just about the ODI’s but since the test series is just around the corner the Indians would want the New Zealanders to be under constant pressure to win.

This has been yet another great series for the Indians but there have been some flaws which were eclipsed by the batters. The fielding has been very poor, catches have gone down at crucial times, bowling has lacked discipline but in spite of that they have won which should give the team confidence. But to be at the top Gary Kirsten needs to work on ironing out the flaws. The Indian one day team is made of youngsters and should not be having any issues with fielding.

The New Zealand captain though would be looking for a win to end the series. They have been battered to submission by the Indian batting but would want to end the series on a high. The test series is just around the corner and a win here would give the team a lot of confidence. Vettori would know that and would want to reverse the trend a little bit. The key for the home team to win is to bowl with more discipline and get rid of the Indian openers fast which they haven’t been able to do since the Twenty20 games.

Once they do that the Indian middle order will be under pressure and would have to consolidate. Lets hope that this game is also as exciting as the previous ones and I am predicting an Indian win again.