As the pilot announced that ‘a bit of turbulence’ was expected, the first view of Christchurch unfolded. In between swathes of thick grey clouds, patches of green stood out. As the plane touched down, it became clear why the motion picture “The Lord of the Rings” was shot almost entirely on these islands. The wet, grey conditions were more suited to cloak and dagger mystical tales than the start of a cricket tour.
You could not really blame India's cricketers if they did not quite appreciate nature’s bounty at first sight. After all, they had spent as many as 27 hours getting from Mumbai to Christchurch, with halts at Hong Kong and Auckland. What's more, they arrived shortly after noon, so the option of taking a nap wasn't open to the weary as that would have thrown body clocks completely off schedule.
A major part of touring New Zealand, especially in some of the short series of the past, has been spent getting used to the conditions quickly. After all, if you lose the first of a two-Test series, because the blustering wind or seaming pitches took you aback, you didn't have much time to get back.
There was more than one cricketer looking nervously out of their hotel room windows as a steady drizzle fell on Cathedral Square.
If the conditions on the field might take some getting used to, Dhoni and his boys will be only too happy if the minimal media presence continues. On Day 1, there was only one TV channel and newspaper from India, raising players’ hopes of being able to wander out in the city with freedom.
"I hope so, I'm not sure how many cameras will be here," said Dhoni. "One thing is for sure and that this country is really beautiful. So, in these 50 days we want to enjoy the country. It shouldn't be that we just play cricket and go back to India without seeing anything of New Zealand."