Kumble, Harbhajan will make the difference
The cricket season begins once again after a long break. It's good to get back to international cricket. There's been lot of talk about this series, especially after the last tour of New Zealand. 'Revenge' is what the headlines in all newspapers have talked about for a while now but I think that scores were settled once we beat them in the World Cup Super Six game.india Updated: Oct 07, 2003 00:28 IST
The cricket season begins once again after a long break. It's good to get back to international cricket. There's been lot of talk about this series, especially after the last tour of New Zealand. 'Revenge' is what the headlines in all newspapers have talked about for a while now but I think that scores were settled once we beat them in Centurion in the World Cup Super Six game.
It's time to get away from the hype that has been attached to this series and concentrate on the technicalities of playing a Test match, because you actually win or lose on the basis of how you play for those five days.
New Zealand played their last Test in India here in Motera. That game ended in a draw, as have the last two Tests played here — there's been no result. We won both the Test and one-day series last time they were here. It is believed that they have prepared differently for this tour by getting conditions as similar to India as possible in Brisbane. But walking out to play on Indian grounds with stands packed is an absolutely different proposition.
They have arrived in this Test match with just one proper hit in the middle in Rajkot and this could be weighing heavily on their minds. Our attack is much better than it used to be when they were last here and with Harbhajan and Anil bowling in tandem, it's not going to be easy out there in the middle.
The wicket here in Motera looks a hard one and the morning of the Test will most likely see the wicket devoid of any grass, although it will be very hard. The conditions in Ahmedabad will be hot and humid and the bowlers need to be well looked after.
We'll miss the services of Sanjay Bangar as a fifth bowler as his spell kept the fast bowlers fresh every time they were brought back into the attack. Balaji will be all set to make his debut. He has improved as a bowler, from when he got caught in a series in which, honestly, all the bowlers from both India and the West Indies got hit all over the park. He had an outstanding season for Tamil Nadu last year, picking seven five-wicket hauls and particularly bowled well over the whole season in the heat and humidity of Chennai. He is also handy with the bat, as he showed in the Irani Trophy game.
Aakash Chopra will also be making his Test debut. He scored lots of runs both for the A side and Delhi and will obviously be going into this game with a lot of confidence.
The Kiwis played a very patient game when they went to Sri Lanka. Although Sri Lanka had Murali, they were a spinner short from the other end. Here, they will have to counter two of the best spinners in the world from both ends.