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India hold the aces

The Indian batting line-up is now in prime form with the batsman beginning to play to their potential. That's a good position to be in, writes Ravi Shastri.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2009 00:39 IST

Team India is now revving up. The openers are back in business; number three is a spot where everyone is keen to outdo the other. The Indian batting line-up is now in prime form with the batsman beginning to play to their potential. That's a good position to be in.

Ironically, it's the conditions that are working against New Zealand. Daniel Vettori has an honest bunch that needs an ally in a helpful pitch to contain the rampaging Indians. So far, the pitches have been a far cry from the ones seen in 2002-2003. The Kiwi attack also needs a spearhead - somebody who is as effective with the new ball as Vettori is with the old. So far they are averaging in excess of 5,6 and even 8 runs per over. That isn't good enough.

Not that the New Zealanders don't have to lose heart just yet. Their batting has potential and the young guns have the ability to play a fearless brand of cricket. They bat deep and are capable of giving the Indians a fight. However, the younger players need a guiding hand from a senior pro. Brendon McCullum has a huge role to play. The rest of the batsman can feed off him. But it still will need a mighty effort from them to match the Indians with the bat.

Virender Sehwag has finally hit his straps. In Wellington he pulled quite frequently, something he doesn't do very frequently. The Westpac pitch, at least initially, had the promise of bounce and Sehwag sensed the line the New Zealanders would bowl. Unwilling to let go of the open spaces in the field in the initial overs, he unfurled a stroke which, let's say, isn't one of his favourites. Yet the impact was devastating.

Tendulkar too went into overdrive - making room to thrash a few on the offside, hooking a few to besides his trademark flicks off the pads and glides towards thirdman.

Now the only thing Indians need to do is the young medium-pacers to stand up. Praveen Kumar was impressive in Napier but Munaf Patel needs a few more overs under his belt. The Kiwis will target these two, as Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh have been more than a handful from them. One hopes Zaheer can withstand the rigours of ODI cricket for he is invaluable badly in Tests. Be ruthless go for the kill, India.

TCM