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Hoping to avoid Hyderabad blues

cricket Updated: Nov 11, 2010 00:26 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Hindustan Times
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The days of the Nizams are long gone. This city though still has someone who uses a glistening sword against adversities and, after experiencing a few wet days, Hyderabad woke up to bright sunshine on Wednesday, 48 hours before VVS Laxman plays his first Test in his hometown.

Although not 100 % in terms of putting finishing touches, from the outside the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium looks a gorgeous theatre befitting such an occasion.

Set to become India's 21st Test venue, the stadium doesn't have shade for spectators who are expected to turn up in numbers but the ground has a shining cover of green.

After the slow surface in Ahmedabad, which reduced chances of a result in the first Test, all eyes will be on the pitch.

Both teams had nets outside the main ground and curator YL Chandrashekhar promised a "hard wicket, which will last five days and favour a result".

The last few first-class matches here saw big totals and the last ODI between India and Australia, in 2009, produced more than 700 runs.

Irrespective of what the pitch has in store and the fact that New Zealand unseated India from a strong position before forcing them to mount a rescue operation, the visitors will have to start afresh.

"We carry lots of confidence into the second Test because of the way we played in Ahmedabad, but we know that a new challenge awaits us," said their middle-order mainstay Ross Taylor on Wednesday.

"Our biggest challenge is against the Indian spinners. We all know what they can do in these conditions and, for us, it's about making the mental shift needed to cope up against the spinners for long periods of time," said Taylor, despite his team looking for left-arm pacers among the local net bowlers, obviously preparing for Zaheer Khan.

While saying that New Zealand will again have to brave the odds, it would be unfair to overlook that this series now promises an even contest because of the way they first resisted and then attacked the Indians before getting stuck by an unforeseen shortage of resources in the first Test.

That is one reason why locals are hoping to see platoons of fans going through stadium gates, two of which are named after the doyens of Hyderabad cricket - Ghulam Ahmed and ML Jaisimha.

That would be a fitting way of welcoming Test cricket back to the city of the Charminar after 22 years.