Three weeks before India’s arrival in New Zealand, Black Caps coach Mike Hesson asked the curators to roll out green and seaming wickets to welcome the visitors. Sunil Gavaskar, however, feels such a ploy could work in India’s favour.
The former captain believes touring New Zealand will not be easier than South Africa, but the India pacers could exploit the conditions to surprise a few.
“New Zealand will be tough. All over the world, records show that home teams are tough to beat,” said Gavaskar during the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal between Mumbai and Maharashtra at the Wankhede.
“They are going to leave grass on the pitches but that could work to India’s advantage because the new-ball bowlers could use it to their favour.”
Gavaskar drew confidence from the fight the Indians displayed during the Tests in South Africa. “I was happy with the way they almost beat the hosts in the first Test and another three good days at Durban. Maybe, a couple of bad sessions cost us the Test,” he said.
Looking at all the positives
Despite the batting collapse that cost India the second Test, Gavaskar chose to appreciate the positives.
“Virat Kohli has been outstanding in the way he got a century and a near-century. It is nice to see him and Cheteshwar Pujara batting in the manner they have because they will be the bulwark of India’s batting in the future!”
While praising the younger batsmen, Gavaskar refused to slam the door on Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh.
“You have one good season and you can comeback. It is up to Yuvraj to show that he has got the desire for it. I think he has. He adds so much to the India team because he is still a top fielder and picks wickets,” asserted Gavaskar.
“Virender Sehwag also, nothing is impossible in cricket. It is up to these guys to come back with not just hundreds but double hundreds.”
In fact, Gavaskar hoped Sehwag would return as an opener. “He likes the ball on the bat. After opening for so long, it is difficult for him to wait for his turn.”
Bats for playing in Ranji Trophy
Amid the debate on whether India’s one-day players, who will leave for New Zealand on January 11, should have played the Ranji quarterfinal from January 8-12, Gavaskar felt the players could have left a day late.
“Once the schedule is done the dates can’t change. It would have been fantastic to have the guys who are in different teams play in the quarterfinals.
“You lose a day going into New Zealand but it would have still given them enough time. This is India’s number one tournament and the more competitive it is, better the feedback for the selection committee.”
Although the BCCI has been criticised in the past for not giving players enough time to acclimatise, both Rahul Dravid and former India pacer Venkatesh Prasad were also in favour of the players featuring in the Ranji game. Prasad is an affected party as well as he is the Uttar Pradesh coach and is missing key players in skipper Suresh Raina and seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the clash against Karnataka, who are without all-rounder Stuart Binny.