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In-form India train guns on Kiwis

cricket Updated: Nov 02, 2010 11:20 IST

AFP
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India will look to extend their dominance of Test cricket when they take on a struggling New Zealand in a three-match series starting on Thursday.

The world number one Test side go into the contest on the back of a 2-0 defeat of Australia at home last month and look primed for another triumph in the traditional format of the game.

Daniel Vettori's Black Caps, who are languishing at number eight in the Test rankings, hope to recover from an embarrassing 4-0 one-day series loss to minnows Bangladesh.

"The Bangladesh tour was extremely disappointing," Vettori told reporters in Ahmedabad. "We will try to rectify that in India. It's a fresh start for us.

"It's Test cricket and we have new players here and they have not been affected by what happened in Bangladesh," said Vettori, who will be playing his 100th Test for the Black Caps.

"When you lose 4-0, no matter to whom, you should expect a lot of criticism. Hopefully, it can be a catalyst for us in improving all facets of our game."

The Indians have been on song, snatching a sensational one-wicket victory in the opening Test against Australia in Mohali and following it up with a seven-wicket win in Bangalore despite missing three key players.

The trio -- Venkatsai Laxman, Gautam Gambhir and Ishant Sharma -- are now back in the side, having recovered from their injuries in time for the showdown with the Kiwis.

Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh said the key for his team will be to guard against complacency and give their rivals the respect they deserve.

"It was a little shocking to see New Zealand go down to Bangladesh," said the 30-year-old, who has 368 wickets from 87 Tests.

"But we should not think that we can beat New Zealand easily just because they lost to Bangladesh. We will have to stay focused. We are really looking forward to the challenge of playing New Zealand.

"If we play to our potential we can beat the Kiwis also."

New Zealand, worried by their slide in fortunes, have called up untested middle-order batsman Kane Williamson and fast bowler Hamish Bennett to the Test squad.

Coach and selector Mark Greatbatch said the pair deserved their step up to Test status after showing promise in Bangladesh, where Williamson scored his maiden one-day international century.

"Kane Williamson is an impressive young talent and his game continues to improve with his involvement in the national team," said the former New Zealand batsman.

"Bennett did everything asked of him on the recent tour of Bangladesh and offers the side a genuine pace option.

"We are here to win. As Dan said, we have some new players in and this is a great opportunity for all of them. We didn't play to our standards against Bangladesh but we have to move on from there and do well against India."

The second Test will be played in Hyderabad from November 12-16 and the third in Nagpur from November 20-24. The Tests will be followed by five one-day internationals from November 28.