Mathew Sinclair | 9:35pm gmt 04 Mar 2009
Any hints that the Indians would struggle in New Zealand conditions have been put to rest.
A powerful and masterful class of top order batting was on display in Napier. Renowned as one of the best batting tracks in NZ the public got exactly what they paid for. Having lost the Twenty20 campaign and having a poor record in NZ the Indians came out and showed that they were here to put the record straight.
I had a great chance to watch the Indians and NZ boys train in Napier whilst I was busy wrapped up in defending minor association supremacy. One thing that I really noticed was how straight and hard the Indian batsmen were hitting the ball out of the nets. Although some of you out there are thinking what the heck this has got to do with things, I believe it gave me as a fellow cricketer watching them just how they as a batting group were executing their plans.
The Indians as we all know are very strong in hitting square of the wicket, which is a true reflection on the wickets that they play on in their country. When you come over to NZ you have to look at hitting down the ground with a straight bat. Our wickets tend to be relatively variable in bounce where in most occasions the ball seams around. If you look to play straight and the ball does move the likelihood of nicking the ball becomes less. Whereas if you look to play square, you have more chance of nicking the ball, because you expose more of the bat. I have always felt that this is usually the case for the Indians, which was shown in their latest Twenty20 losses.
When you have been at the crease for a certain amount of time, it is then your chance to start looking to hit square on our wickets in this country. This formula has worked quite well for me over the years playing on NZ wickets and experiencing other wickets overseas. The exception was of course a great display in Napier which always produces big runs and a batsman's dream because of the flat nature of the wicket. Some very erratic opening bowling spells from the Kiwis set up the Indians for a very big score which in reply was always going to be very tough to chase.
For the Kiwis to have a great chance of winning, it required some big partnerships which never eventualised as wickets fell regularly during the run chase. This was evident in the Indians' batting as these partnerships remained strong and NZ struggled to contain the run momentum. NZ I am sure will put this down to a bad day at the cricket office and will look to start implementing their bowling plans with more accuracy and confidence. The Wellington encounter will be a testing one for both teams and I predict a very tight finish to the game and a good chance for the Kiwis to level peg the one day series.
With all the talk about the ICL and IPL and who can and can't play for which team, we have been lucky enough to gain the services of Amit Mishra for our up and coming game against Canterbury. Canterbury will have Rahul Dravid and I can't wait from a captaincy point of view to pick the brains of Mishra who I see as a very classy up and coming international player. His services in our set up will hopefully provide a great opportunity for the guys to learn from him and hopefully see him take plenty of wickets for us, the big one being Dravid.
We initially proposed to NZ Cricket that we wanted a bowler as we have a good batting line up for the Central Stags already. To get Mishra and the possibility of another bowler in our next game up in Napier boosts even more our chances of qualifying for the four day championship final. We are currently placed at the top of the table. What has been a disappointing one day and Twenty20 campaign, we need to get our bowlers and batters thinking and visualising big scores and lots of wickets. Our team is in the process of a lot of changes in personnel due to England A touring NZ which I hope in return gets more of these guys playing at the top level.
At the end of the day, whether we make the final or not is all in our hands. The team will be wanting strong performances on the park like we have shown at the start of the season and even more so from my point of view. To accommodate two Indian Test specialist stars as well gives us a strong case to take the Championship trophy. Brendon Diamanti who right throughout the season has performed very well will be playing for us and we have some really exciting Central Districts talent coming through at a great time in their cricketing career.
Until next time keep those blog comments coming through, I love to hear what you have to say about the cricketing world and players.