Brendon McCullum, who was skipper during the third ODI that Daniel Vettori missed, became the latest in the long line of New Zealanders who have been stunned by the manner in which India have won two matches in this series. New Zealand's bowlers in particular have been left dazed and confused.
“That's what we're trying to get a grasp on at the moment. Is it a skill issue, of not being able to execute the plans, or is it a mental issue with being apprehensive and almost trying too hard not to get hurt rather than grabbing the ball and doing as well as you can,” the New Zealand vice-captain said of his bowling unit's inability to rein in India's aggressive batsmen.
“From the bowlers' perspective, it would have knocked their confidence a little bit. When you go around the park like we did in the last couple of games, it's not a nice thing. But what would have given them a bit of confidence was seeing us respond with the bat the other day. We just have to try and execute the plans set out for us. In the last couple of games, we haven't quite been exact enough with our execution. The mental approach against such a strong batting line-up can make you a bit apprehensive.”
Quite clearly in awe of India's power-packed batting line-up, McCullum said, “Their batting is as good as any team, the power they've got in their order. If you look at the statistics as well, it's phenomenal. We've grown up watching loads of Tendulkar, and to get an opportunity to play against him is amazing. At times, you have to put that to the back of your mind and remember that you have a job to do.”
McCullum wasn't prepared to take too much of a lift from Tendulkar's absence. “I'm sure it will make a difference, but they've still got Sehwag, Dhoni, Yuvraj, Raina and the likes. We saw how well Sachin played the other day. To know that he will not be in the side will be a lift for the bowlers.” New Zealand are desperate to ensure that they don't get blanked out by the Indians and McCullum admitted as much. “We know that the only option for us is to win. We haven't got momentum. We've got to do something very special to turn that around. We're proud of our record at home, in the last eight years, the only team we've lost to is Australia. We're keen to maintain that record.”