|Font Size -||-A+A|
The first Test in Hyderabad was played in backdrop of the retirement of VVS Laxman, who made a rather emotional and abrupt end to his career. The resultant vacuum trained the spotlight firmly on who among the younger players would step up and grab the opportunity in the Indian batting line-up.
Following this the attention shifted to another batting great, or rather his mode of dismissals. India’s wins in the first two Tests faced the possibility of becoming a footnote as Sachin Tendulkar’s defence was breached on three occasions, ‘bowled’ every time.
Then Yuvraj Singh, back after battling cancer, was set for a comeback in the two T20 Internationals.
With the first of those games at Vizag being washed out, the focus will be on the final game in Chennai, which is also the last competitive international fixture for both the teams before the start of the World T20. The visitors will want to finish the tour on the right note and carry some confidence into the world event.
The New Zealanders have gradually improved and after losing the first Test by an innings, they gave a better account of themselves in the second. The shortest format of the game was expected to be more of an even contest.
‘A Rocky road’
Senior fast bowler Kyle Mills admitted that inconsistency has been the bane of New Zealand cricket. “We have been on the rocky road of late. But weather permitting, we would like to use tomorrow’s match as an opportunity to put our name on the board and carry forward the momentum to the T20 World Cup,” Mills said. “We will play two practice matches in Sri Lanka, but a win in tomorrow’s game might just give us the necessary impetus.”
However, to gain a favourable result their best players will have to play to their potential. Their opener Brendon McCullum is a prime example of a player blessed with talent but not necessarily consistency. His extraordinary feat in this country remains the 158 he made while playing for Kolkata Knight Riders in the inaugural match of the IPL in 2008.
Unfortunately for New Zealand cricket, this particular knock by McCullum remains one of his best on any stage.
Skipper Ross Taylor showed how brutal he can be with a counter-attacking century in the first innings of the second Test, but like McCullum or like Martin Guptill, who is highly rated back home, has only shown flashes of brilliance.
The arrival of Daniel Vettori, Jacob Oram and Mills for the T20Is will give the squad greater depth and experience.
Both Oram and Mills are coming off productive stints in the SLPL, with the former finishing as the joint highest wicket-taker with 11 wickets.
On the field, New Zealand will have to ensure that the experience and skill-sets translate into a positive result. Only then can they open their account on this tour and head to Sri Lanka with the confidence that only a win can bring.
Live on Star Cricket: 7pm onwards
Another washout? Possibly
The weather could play spoilsport yet again after the wash-out in Vizag. The Kiwis were at the receiving end on Monday, as heavy rains cut short their practice session. The forecast for Tuesday evening predicts cloudy skies and rain. Twenty thousand tickets have been sold for the match.