Ashwin's unlikely to play anyway IMO.
the 2009 side looked fine on paper at the time flem 1st Test: New Zealand v India at Hamilton, Mar 18-21, 2009 | Cricket Scorecard | ESPN Cricinfo
McIntosh - not as bad as some, still not really test standard
Guptill - no where near good enough then
Flynn - was a joke then
Taylor - good
Ryder - good
Franklin - norounder
McCullum - good WK bat
Vettori - good batsman
Mills - poor at tests
Martin - awful bowler during this period
Then we replaced Mills with Jeets for Napier. Hari Kari much...
Tbf India gave us a hand by playing one bowler, but even then the collective direness of the 2009 side couldn't dispatch them. Pretty sure that was the series Marto put Harby back over his head though. WAFG.
We didn't really have a good team though, and in 20/20 hindsight they stood no chance against Zaheer and some great batsmen.
Nah Mills was a decent Test bowler by then. He was never great and he wasn't going to do much on those pitches but from 2006-2009 he was not ****. A bit unlucky not be selected more really.
New ball bully and ridiculously injury prone tbh. I wub him but he's never really worked out how to bowl once the shine is gone and he kept running out of puff. Line and length at 125-130kph doesn't really cut it.
I do agree with your overall point though. Even if Mills is deemed decent/average rather than poor, you only had four decent batsmen (none of whom were any better than "good" and only two of whom actually batted in the top six) and two decent bowlers in that side at the time. Martin if I recall was bowling complete crap.
I often make the point about New Zealand sides that they often look so much better at the time than they do when we look back at them, but even if things go a bit pear-shaped with some of the 50/50 or unproven players in the current side, I definitely think we'll look back and say that Williamson, Taylor, McCullum, Southee and Boult were decent international cricketers which makes the current side better.
So NZ may have been worse back then, but India were better back then as well. They'd have beaten most teams NZ put out (at least on the pitches that were served up). I mean they were a bee's dick and some better weather away from 2-0 as well.
This time, whilst India are coming off a reasonably good South African tour, they still lost the series. Still a lot for this team to prove. And its kind of unknown how good Zaheer will be still imo.
I think O'Brien is looked back on with rose tinted glasses, tbh. He was ok but I'd usually take Martin over him.
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