India will face a rejuvenated New Zealand team on a fresh track that seems to hold ammunition for fast bowlers in the second cricket Test beginning on Friday at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
India drew the first Test at Ahmedabad, but not before New Zealand gave them a fright in the second innings when they reduced the hosts to five for 15 on the fourth day, and that too, on a unresponsive Motera track. India's perennial troubleshooter VVS Laxman and a daredevil century from Harbhajan Singh saw them wriggle out of the tight spot.
Fast bowler Chris Martin authored India's dramatic collpase with a five-wicket haul in the second innings. Martin would be excited with the slightly damp conditions, after rain earlier in the week, that will help seam movement.
The New Zealand team is also happy with the look of the track and batsman Ross Taylor said Wednesday that it will have some bounce and perhaps turn for the spinner as the game progresses.
Nothing much can be predicted about the surface beyond that as the ground would be holding its first Test. In fact Hyderabad will host a Test match after 22 years. Previously Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium was a Test venue. Interestingly, New Zealand were the last visiting side to play a Test here and they lost by 10 wickets.
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said reading the wicket is not so difficult since it has held ODIs and Indian Premier League matches.
"It's not difficult to judge this wicket if you see past performances in games that have been played. The wicket is on the flatter side but has a bit of bounce which allows the batsmen to play freely at the same time," said Dhoni.
New Zealand would take lot of heart from their performance in Ahmedabad where they defiantly stood against the No.1 Test team India and challenged them in every aspect.
Replying to India's mammoth total of 487, New Zealand racked up 459 with Jesse Ryder and debutant Kane Williamson cracking centuries.
It was a commendable performance by Daniel Vettori's team the way they raised their game, considering the fact that they drew lot of flak after losing all the four ODIs to Bangaldesh.
The concerns for New Zealand will be the form of opener Tim McIntosh and No.3 Bradley-John Watling.
India, too, would be hoping for opener Gautam Gambhir to get back to form and Harbhajan Singh to perform with the ball.
Dhoni hoped that Gambhir would soon find his touch.
"The kind of innings he has played in the past shows how good he is. He is returning from an injury and is working hard on fitness. I am sure he will come good with the bat sooner than later."
New Zealand: Daniel Vettori (captain), Tim McIntosh, Brendon McCullum, Bradley-John Watling, Ross Taylor, Jesse Ryder, Kane Williamson, Gareth Hopkins (wicket-keeper), Jeetan Patel, James Franklin, Chris Martin.
India: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain and wicket-keeper), Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Pragyan Ojha, S. Sreesanth, Ishant Sharma.