The curator at the Basin Reserve ground in Wellington may have done the Indian team a favour by leaving plenty of grass on the pitch. Mind you, that is what was seen a day before, and as we all know, when the teams arrive to play on day one the pitch may look entirely different.
That may not quite happen, and even if some grass will be removed, there could be just enough to give the Indian seamers just the kind of help that they need. Not that it will make life easy for the Indian batsmen, but if the sun comes out and they are batting second, then the grass could be less moist and the ball is likely to be a bit more predictable.
New Zealand will go in with no spinners, and that is hardly a surprise after the manner in which Sodhi was hammered in the first Test. Also, the grass on the pitch makes it sensible to go in with an extra seamer and leave the spin to Kane Williamson who does a pretty good job too.
India will have to take a tough call, but it’s unlikely they will go in with an extra seamer. It is this absence of plan B that is hurting India but let us see what the morning brings.
Now that the minor distraction of the IPL auction is over, the players of both teams should be able to focus on the longer format of the game. It is important for the Indians to get a good start, for that will make batting a lot easier down the order.
Shikhar Dhawan’s return to form is a good sign. What was most impressive was his application and the way he was determined to come out of his lean run. If the others, especially the lower order batsmen, show even half of these attributes India will be well served.
Dhawan curbed his attacking instincts since he knew that form had not been his best friend in recent times, and in trying to regain that friendship he had to sacrifice some of the shots, especially the hook and the other horizontal bat shots.
More is expected of Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja and skipper Dhoni. They all are capable of getting big scores but have not shown the patience to stay at the crease.
Pujara got a great delivery in the second innings when he looked as if he was settling down, and he will once again be the key, for when he stays at the wicket then India invariably get a good score.
Way back in 2002, India were confronted with a similar pitch at Headingley, Leeds, but they went in with a positive mindset opting to bat first and after a painstaking first day when the ball was doing all kinds of things went on to get over 600 runs and won the game.
If India hope to level the series, that is the approach that is needed else it will be another whitewash overseas.
Professional Management Group