New Zealand look to level the series
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter
DateLine: 25th March 2009
New Zealand are 0-1 down in the series and their coach Andy Moles hoped the Napier pitch would nip around for a couple of days so that it would bring their seamers into the game. However the groundsman at McLean Park, Phil Stoyanoff, has promised a typical Napier pitch, one on which lots of runs are scored. Batting time will be key to New Zealand levelling their Test series against India on a McLean Park pitch that is likely to produce plenty of runs.
New Zealand were thrashed by 10 wickets within four days in the first Test in Hamilton and must at least secure a draw to stop the tourists from claiming their first series win in New Zealand since 1968, before next week's final Test in Wellington. The hosts were bowled out for 279 twice at Seddon Park, lasting less than a day in their first innings and just over three sessions in their second, while India's powerful batting lineup ground out 520 in 152.4 overs in their first innings.
MS Dhoni has a superior team on paper, and proved that in the first Test, but India need to guard against complacency. While they've been winning more frequently overseas since 2000, series wins haven't been that easy to come by. The last time they won the first Test of a series outside the subcontinent - against South Africa in 2006-07 - they promptly lost the next two to lose the series. However, Dhoni has plenty of incentive to ensure that this isn't repeated: India haven't won a series in New Zealand since 1967-68, and a victory in Napier will break that dry spell, and also bring up their 100th Test win.
A Test victory in New Zealand after 33 years is something to rejoice about even if India are ranked No 3 and the Kiwis are No 8. The ranking may not be exactly accurate given the fact that New Zealand are almost always formidable opposition at home as indeed Indian teams have repeatedly discovered. On the last tour six years ago India had lost both Test matches as well as the ODI series 5-2.
Jeetan Patel is likely to come in for the disappointing Kyle Mills, who did his cause no favours with a lacklustre performance in Hamilton - 1 for 119 in 24.2 overs. Moreover, in two previous Tests in Napier, Mills' stats are equally mediocre - none for 128 in 44 overs. New Zealand also need to decide if Daniel Flynn has recovered from the bruising he suffered on his hand in the first Test. He practised despite a swollen hand on the eve of the Test, and a final call will only be taken after a comprehensive fitness Test on Thursday morning. If he fails to make the grade, Jamie How will take his place.
New Zealand (probable)
- Daniel Vettori (captain), Tim McIntosh, Martin Guptill, Daniel Flynn/Jamie How, Ross Taylor,Jesse Ryder, James Franklin, Brendon McCullum, Iain O'Brien, Jeetan Patel, Chris Martin.
India - Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Vangipurappu Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel.