I wasn’t too fussed when I saw the Indians loose the 2020 games. To me it was largely insignificant and still only acts as a curtain raiser to the main events, the ODIs and the tests.
And on a day when cricket took a back seat, NZ faced the real Indians.
Having watched the Indians closely over the last month and last year when they came to Sri Lanka, I will dispense what I have learned.
India are not unbeatable, but winning 2020 matches against them doesn’t prove that. And winning 50 over matches and tests against them are much harder.
NZ are at a distinct advantage because they are playing at home. Its an advantage they have make sure counts in their favor. NZ conditions aren’t something India are particularly fond of. The cold, the wind, the seam movement are not their bread and butter. 42 years without a test series win proves this.
This is what I have learned and if India are to be defeated, NZ will HAVE to win each of these key battles.
Sehwag and Ghambir– the longer these two are together, the more pain they will inflict. Everyone knows about the one true Gods power. He can destroy you within 5 overs and set up a match in a session. Ghambir is a different animal altogether, a bit like Langer but with more flair. He will charge you and try to dominate. Don’t let him.
Whatever happens, NZ have to bowl full at them both. The shorter you bowl the more likely you are of your career ending. And the tighter you keep them, maybe with sweepers on the fence, the more likely they will make a mistake. Both love to attack and once their tied down they can falter.
Ishant Sharma– Believe the hype, this guy is good. In either test matches or ODIs its best to try and get your eye in against Ishant. Try not to loose wickets even if you cant score that many against him. His line and good length bowling can be annoying. Because its hard to work around and even pick up singles. But once you get your eye in you are pretty much good to go. Try attacking him into his last spell. He will be tired and usually tends go for yorkers. Mid wicket is a good hitting area. When you get a few boundaries off him it has a triple effect.
It boosts your confidence, it puts pressure on Ishant and it starts to worry…
Dhoni– Which is crucial. When his main strike bowler is being belted around Dhoni starts to wobble. And you know India is struggling when Dhoni is on the ropes. I saw it first hand in Colombo. Dhoni is not immune to pressure. You put enough pressure on him and he will surely crack too. The kiwis are good at needling players so a sledge or two wont harm the cause.
Its not only Dhonis air of calm and hint of arrogance that makes India the smart cricket team that they are. Its his batting too. For half an hour he will look like he has edged every ball he faced to thirdman. When you look up at the scoreboard, he’d have scored 30-40 runs without so much as breaking a sweat. Its hard to keep Dhoni quiet because he hits into un conventional areas. The biggest thing is to stop the singles against him. Singles are his life line, cut that out and he will struggle.
There you have it. Go forth and use it at your own discreation !