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Black Caps need Dan magic

Daniel Vettori was 16 when Lee Germon led a New Zealand side to India in 1995. The reason for remembering Germon is that there can't possibly be a starker study in contrasts than the story of these two New Zealand captains visiting India. Atreyo Mukhopadhyay reports

cricket Updated: Nov 03, 2010 23:57 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

Daniel Vettori was 16 when Lee Germon led a New Zealand side to India in 1995. The reason for remembering Germon is that there can't possibly be a starker study in contrasts than the story of these two New Zealand captains visiting India.

While Germon, the wicketkeeper, was the captain without any experience of Test cricket and debuted in Bangalore, Vettori is the only player in this contingent with the experience of playing Tests in India.

The resources at their disposal are equally contrasting. Germon had successful players such as Martin Crowe, Mark Greatbatch, Stephen Fleming, Chris Cairns, Danny Morrison and Dion Nash. Apart from the promising duo of Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder, the two established names in Vettori's squad are Chris Martin and Brendon McCullum.

"Considering India is the best team, to play them in their conditions against that line-up; yes, it's the toughest test for me as captain," Vettori said when asked whether he had faced anything tougher during his tenure as captain.

That was during his last interaction with the media on Monday. Nothing happened till Wednesday - a day before the first Test when nobody from New Zealand turned up at the media conference - for Vettori to change his opinion. That his team didn't get a practice game indicates how well prepared they can be. "It would've been good to get one, but that won't be an excuse if we don't do well," Vettori said.

Add to it the indecision over the crucial opening slots for an estimation of how smooth the planning might have been. "The first three batting slots have historically been a problem for us," was how Vettori tried to defend a question on this. As per indications on Wednesday, Brendon McCullum was likely to open.

In a 13-year international career, Vettori has quietly taken 325 wickets and scored 3962 runs in 100 Tests, including one for the World XI against Australia in 2005. This will be his 100th Test for New Zealand. For someone whose cricket is based on diligence and intelligence, Vettori will need these qualities and more from teammates to make the personal milestone memorable.

"There are no expectations from us and that makes it exciting. Doing well here will make everybody sit up and take notice. It's up to us to play above ourselves," Vettori said.

A tall man himself, Vettori knows that will take some doing.