Dhoni and Team India will defend their World Cup crown in Australia and New Zealand a little over a year from now. (AFP photo)
New Zealand could turn out to be a lesser challenge than South Africa, but skipper MS Dhoni was not ready to drop his guard on the first day of the tour.
India are ranked world No 1 but Dhoni was determined not to give the in-form hosts, ranked No 8, any extra motivation as he praised the Black Caps on Monday after landing in New Zealand.
“They will be a fantastic side,” said Dhoni, mindful of the solid performances the Kiwis had produced against West Indies.
“They’ve got good bowlers in the side now. I would rather go into the series not taking New Zealand lightly. Especially at home, they’ll know the conditions better than us and for some who have not played here, it will be a challenge,” he told reporters who gathered in numbers at the airport.
India have arrived early to give themselves extra time to get used to the conditions ahead of the five-match ODI series starting with the first game in Napier on Sunday.
India, also looking to gain experience ahead of next year’s ODI World Cup to be jointly staged in New Zealand and Australia, defended his bowlers, who mostly struggled in South Africa.
“It has been a common question; people always talk about our bowlers getting smashed. But we have seen over a period that they have improved, the death bowling has improved,” felt the skipper.
The team will look to gain useful practice in Napier this week before the series gets under way.