The mainpower Oval in Rangiora, about 30 kilometres outside Christchurch, is some distance away from city life. It was in this idyllic setting that Rahul Dravid and Amit Mishra got their first taste of conditions on this tour of New Zealand in the match between the Canterbury Wizards and the Central Districts Stags. Far away from the media glare, with just about the proverbial three men and a dog watching, two of India’s Test specialists went about their business.
“It was good to play this game because there was no practice match scheduled for the team otherwise. I’ve got what I needed out of the game, in terms of practice,” Dravid told HT at the end of the second day’s play. “It’s certainly better this way than starting the Test matches without any practice game.”
Mishra picked up 3 for 54, an improvement on his first day’s none for 101. “This is the first time I am coming to New Zealand and though I had some idea on what the pitches here are like, only after playing have I got a really good idea,” said Mishra.
“I’ve bowled better on the second day than on the first. By the time the Test matches come, I’ll understand how to bowl on these wickets.”
After having a torrid time with the conditions on the last tour, Dravid was happy to confirm for himself that normal service had resumed. “The conditions we got on the last tour were an aberration. When we played here in 1998 the wickets were really good,” said Dravid. “From what I’ve seen of the T20 games and the ODIs, the wickets seem to be good for batting. Hopefully, the wickets will be good right through the series. The important thing when you tour anywhere is that you want to play good cricket and have pitches where you get a result on the fourth or fifth day.”
Mishra, who had done his homework before arriving in New Zealand, felt that spinners would have a role to play. “Rahul gave me a lot of tips. He said that a spinner would need to do a lot of hard work in the initial stages of a match. Then maybe, in the last couple of days, there will be some turn,” Mishra said. “Spinners will have a role to play in this series. On previous tours, the conditions were a bit different. But this time I can see that there will be something in the wickets for the spinners also.”
For Johannes Myburgh, who left South Africa years ago to play and live in New Zealand, batting alongside Dravid was something to cherish. “I’ve played with and against a lot of quality cricketers, but to bat with Rahul was really special,” said Myburgh. “He’s a class act and to have a partnership with him is something you’ll remember for a long time.” Looks like this was one situation where everyone was a winner.