Mathew Sinclair | 8:23am gmt 25 Mar 2009
A deflated New Zealand cricket team after a comprehensive win by the Indians have a lot of hard work ahead of themselves in Napier.
Notorious for being one of the best batting tracks in NZ and with the batting depth that India have our batters need to start stepping up and taking note of how the Indians go about building an innings.
Sachin Tendulkar's big score and the way he carved out yet another match winning performance is testament that if you spend quality time in the middle the runs will come. The NZ bowlers had no real answer to the little master wearing down the bowlers temperament of line and length and hitting any loose balls to the boundary.
This Napier wicket will be no different from past batting and bowling attempts with its reliability in pace and consistent carry. Having played quite a few games on this as my home wicket I find that from a batting perspective that if you apply yourself to play the patient game the rewards come very thick and fast square of the wicket, due to its short side boundary's.
From a point of view being that this wicket will be a very good one Dan Vettori will more than likely choose to bat first, and the batsmen will apply the patience required to build a big score bringing in the chance of wearing the Indian bowlers down. Bowlers that have done well here on this wicket have to be accurate in their one side of the wicket plan reducing the loose ball and forcing the batsman to search for other areas of the park to score. This wicket is very flat and produces a lot of big first innings scores so I would from a captaincy point of view look to attack early on whilst the ball is new and then resort to defence with sweepers on possible Indian batting areas. This I feel plays on the Indians' batting egos because they like to score fast and hopefully create opportunities to get wickets by simply boring them out.
The NZ batsman have to start looking at spending time in the middle but also more importantly batting to the pitch conditions. The good batters that I have been lucky to play with and also watch have been the batters that assess the wicket and its playing capabilities and bat accordingly to that. For example Tendulkar's first 50 runs in his eyes was a bit sluggish in Hamilton but his next lot of runs came at a far quicker rate and less risk basically because he started to work out areas in his batting technique that could create scoring opportunities for him. Good players react to this very quickly where I feel that is why this Indian batting line up are posting some very good scores against NZ and our bowlers I feel aren't putting themselves in as I would say "the batters shoes".
Cricket I believe relies on cues with the bat and the ball. Before I go out to bat I need to know what's going on out in the middle, for example if the ball is swinging, what type of field does the captain set to various bowlers and batters, the pace and carry of the wicket, what shots are on and what is not on to play on this wicket. All of these I need as a batsman to get in my cricketing brain before I go out and face my first ball. Cricket at the best of times deals with one ball at a time and for a batter one ball can be the difference in staying out in the middle or being back in the shed. Same principle applies for a bowler but they can create chances with various deliveries throughout the day.
Keeping it nice and simple with this game I believe creates better cricketers and performances. I don't see this currently with this NZ side but they have a fantastic opportunity to turn it all around by keeping it simple and being patient.
On the domestic scene I am proud to say that my Central Districts Stags boys have made it to the final of the four-day competition. Chasing down a whopping 448 with me contributing no runs was a bit of a downer but to see certain individuals stepping up and showing what true character it takes to chase this score down made it just that more satisfying. We head up to Auckland in a dead rubber play off game as we play them in the final, but I see it as an opportunity to go top of the table. This would mean that Auckland would have to beat us outright in the final and since we are playing at a neutral ground taking away any home advantage I see this final being a real rollercoaster affair.
To win a trophy when at the best of times throughout this season we have been pretty inconsistent with wins would top off a fantastic year under a new captaincy and coach. We still need a lot of work on the bowling front as we haven't bowled out teams and let ourselves down poorly in our first innings batting efforts. Having the likes of Jake Oram and all the NZ A guys back for us we look very good on paper and I am sure after that run chase that we have just done the confidence is at a high and now we can start believing that we can win this.
I look forward to the remaining games left as our domestic season slowly closes down and can't wait to hold the trophy up and be the one that makes it happen.
Till my next blog entry, keep your head down and give it your best.
M S Sinclair
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