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The Kiwis seem to lack in self-belief

The test series begins on Wednesday and it promises to be a well-fought series. The Indians seem to be starting favourites as they are used to the conditions and revel in them.

india Updated: Oct 08, 2003 00:09 IST
Arun Lal

The test series begins today and it promises to be a well-fought series. The Indians, on the face of it, seem to be starting favourites as they are used to the conditions and revel in them. They have to guard against underestimating the opposition and, in the process, they may relax a bit.

New Zealand has been performing very well in the last two years, especially in similar conditions, on their recent tour of Sri Lanka. They managed to draw the series and demonstrated to the world that they had come of age and could handle good spin bowling -- even that of the Murlitharan.

In Fleming, they have an exceptional talent who is astute and leads from the front and has managed to knit them together to be able to extract the best out of them.

They have also worked very hard to prepare for this tour. There is the much publicised practice regimen under conditions simulated to replicate those that exist here. They have trained endlessly and practiced on turning tracks etc.

All this is laudable and something that the Indians can also learn from but I get the feeling that they are trying just too hard. It almost betrays an underlying feeling of awe for the home team under these conditions.

Having won the home series convincingly, on tailor made wickets that were too full of moisture and grass that it made batting near impossible, Fleming does not miss a chance to say that this is going to be a revenge series. He is obviously trying to pre-empt the Indians and prevent them from making turning tracks and doing the same. Moreover, there seems to be too much talk about the heat and humidity, giving the impression that they are truly troubled by it.

Finally, the absence of Shane Bond and Chris Cairns has demoralised them and it appears that they are lacking in self-belief. From what we have seen so far, they will struggle to get the strong Indian line up out in these conditions.

They must also resist the temptation to play two spinners and stick to medium pace bowling which is their strength. That is the only thing that works -- even the great Shane Warne could not win Australia the series.

The wicket has been re-laid and appears to be different from the usual. It’s well prepared, and may turn out to have something for everybody. Surprisingly full of moisture, it even has some grass on it.

While there is no doubt that it will help spinners from the third day, it will have some pace and bounce in it for the faster bowlers at the start. Day two and three would be the best for batting. Both teams will no doubt want to bat first to obviate having to bat last but they will have to be resolute and guard against early loss of wickets.

The Indians, on their part, have to keep a cool head and go about their job professionally. They are the more balanced unit for the conditions. This is also a great opportunity for both the debutants Balaji and Chopra.

First Published: Oct 08, 2003 00:09 IST