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Showers keep India players indoors, clouds preparation

The focus shifted from speculating on the nature of the pitch to weather forecasts following a sharp afternoon shower, which cancelled India's plans for nets here on Thursday. New Zealand had finished their session before rain arrived. Atreyo Mukhopadhyay reports.

cricket Updated: Nov 19, 2010 02:34 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

The focus shifted from speculating on the nature of the pitch to weather forecasts following a sharp afternoon shower, which cancelled India's plans for nets here on Thursday. New Zealand had finished their session before rain arrived.

Although there is no serious threat yet to the match, scheduled to start on Saturday, being affected by the elements, uncovered pitches and bowlers' run-ups at the practice arena outside the ground put a question mark over chances of the teams warming up at full throttle on Friday. They may have to move indoors.

Dark clouds hovering above the magnificent Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, situated in the eastern suburb of the city called Jamtha near here, symbolised how two of this three-Test series have gone for star-studded India.

The world's top Test team will not be knocked off the perch if they fail to break the barren deadlock against the eighth-ranked visitors, but it will dent their pride and could leave them low on confidence ahead of the much tougher challenge in South Africa next month.

Apart from the resistance they have put up, mostly with the bat and partly with the ball, New Zealand have also shown positive intent.

Some of the knocks played by Brendon McCullum, Jesse Ryder or Kane Williamson have been characterised by the will to dominate.

And even though on a lesser scale, the way they stuck to plans and kept things tight at crucial periods when the Indian stalwarts batted demonstrated that this New Zealand team is trying to make things happen instead of letting them drift.

The Kiwi captain Daniel Vettori said after the second Test that he was happy with the performance but not satisfied.

"We are still looking for ways to improve. No New Zealand team has won a series here. Although we have done well so far, we would like to push harder and go for a win," was how Vettori assessed the situation.

From the leader of a team with so little experience of playing in India, those were brave words.

But then, Vettori's boys have played with courage and made things much tougher than expected for the hosts.

India looked like breaking free at times only to be pulled back by some disciplined execution of plans. There was no letup in intensity when the New Zealanders batted and bowled at the nets on Thursday.

They showed the kind of verve that comes from a good collective effort and there was also a spring in their stride suggesting that this team is high on confidence.

The Indians must raise their game to overpower this sprightly bunch in the third and final Test.