T20: Dhoni’s men take on kiwis
If Twenty20 is considered a hit or miss game, then Christchurch is certainly the apt place to play such matches. After all, till the moment the first ball is bowled no one can say for sure just what the weather will be like. On Tuesday the weather conditions swung more dramatically than a scuffed up old ball in the hands of Sarfaraz Nawaz. From wet and cold in the morning, to bright and sunny in the afternoon to nippy and cloudy in the evening, Christchurch served up the full range.
But on Wednesday, when the first Twenty20 match of this series gets under way the AMI Stadium should be a thriving hive of activity. “We can expect loads of fun and enjoyment and good cricket for the spectators because that’s what a Twenty20 game is about,” said MS Dhoni on the eve of the match. “It’s not for the bowlers or the batsmen, it’s for the spectators mostly and also for the fielders, who can dive around and show that extra skill. We’ll just look to go out there and play some good cricket, enjoy the conditions, enjoy the moment.”
Getting used to the conditions and enjoying the moment is all very well, but these Twenty20 matches are significant from a cricketing point to the Indian team. These are India’s last Twenty20 matches before they set out to defend their World Cup title in England in June. Dhoni suggests that the Indian Premier League, and not these matches, will serve as preparation for the big tournament and he is right in that those games are closer to the ICC event. However, in the IPL India’s players will be spread out among different teams and dancing to the rhythms of their respective franchisees. This is the last opportunity for them to play together.
India go into this match with a handsome record — seven wins, two losses, one tie and one no result in 11 matches. New Zealand, in contrast, have won only six of their 19 T20 internationals. Ironically, the only time the two teams met, New Zealand got the better of India by 10 runs in a tournament that Dhoni’s boys went on to win. So, in some ways, India have a score to settle, and that’s not the worst way to begin a series.
Inclement weather has done its bit to disrupt things but India’s practice sessions have been lengthy and intense. In a winning team the spirit always looks good, and this bunch is no exception. All they need to do is express themselves fearlessly. If they can do so then India will be a tough side to beat, for any opposition.