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Clipped Kiwis keep on crawling

cricket Updated: Dec 05, 2010 23:15 IST
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
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Since the one-day series began, a thrashing has awaited the visitors in every Indian city as surely as the chartered flight on the tarmac that transports them to their next destination. The sub-continent nightmare that began in Dambulla in August refuses to end for Daniel Vettori & Co.

After almost every defeat, Vettori has spoken of the need to look ahead and not behind. "We can't get caught up in history," he said after the loss in Jaipur in the second game. Looking behind is not an option because all that the New Zealanders will see is a sequence of nine straight defeats spread across Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India."

But looking ahead, will they find comfort in anything other than their tickets for the return flight to New Zealand? Vettori certainly thinks so. "Most teams rely on confidence and it hasn't been easy for us because of what's happened in these last few games. I think it only takes one performance - some guy scoring a hundred or taking five wickets - to turn things around," he said after Saturday's defeat in Vadodara.

"We've got to hope and we've got to believe that it will happen during the last two games."

What must be galling for Vettori is how the New Zealand resistance crumbled after they had surprised everyone with their spunk in the first two Tests of the India tour. The ODI series in Bangladesh and India were supposed to be the ideal preparation ahead of next year's World Cup. Instead, it has been one harsh lesson after another.

The Indian team that has lined up against New Zealand in this series has been a second-string one, with no Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Mahendra Singh Dhoni or Harbhajan Singh. But even Gautam Gambhir's young brigade has proved too strong for them till now.

However, there is one record the New Zealanders can draw some comfort from. In the past six seasons, India have not lost a bilateral series at home to anyone except Australia, who have won twice. Sri Lanka (thrice), England (twice), Pakistan, West Indies and South Africa (once each) have all come to India in that period and lost.

Even Australia lost their last series, though it was reduced to one match where a Virat Kohli century proved decisive. New Zealand are easy meat in comparison.