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November 14, 2003
Rahul Dravid: an encore at Hyderabad would do just fine
© Wisden Cricinfo
Saturday's match will be the 14th one-day international at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium in Hyderabad. Like at Bangalore, India have an enviable record here, winning five matches and losing just one (one match was washed out). New Zealand haven't had as much to celebrate: just one win - against Zimbabwe in a 1987 World Cup match remembered more for Dave Houghton's exploits than for anything New Zealand did - and two defeats, against Sri Lanka and India.
There's been plenty of talk about conditions not being equal for both teams in many matches in the TVS Cup, but past record suggests that the team batting first will have as much chance as the team chasing: in 12 decisive matches here, the team batting first has won six and lost as many, while the win-loss record for the team winning the toss is 6-6 too. Playing under lights doesn't seem to make a difference either: in six day-night games, the team batting first has won three and lost three. However, India have never lost a match here after calling correctly at the toss, winning three times, while one match was rained out.
If Saturday's match is anything like the previous clash between India and New Zealand here, then the crowd at the Lal Bahadur Stadium will have plenty to cheer. In that match, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid pulverised New Zealand, adding a world record 331 for the second wicket as India amassed 376, and won by a whopping 174 runs. Tendulkar made an undefeated 186 while Dravid got 153. Neither has bettered that performance in an ODI.
An Indian victory will not only take them into the final, it will also preserve their record in triangular tournaments at home: in six previous competitions, they have always made it to the final, and have gone to win lift the title four times.
Stephen Fleming's abdominal strain means that Chris Cairns will lead New Zealand, and while that may seem a huge bonus for the Indians, Cairns has a 100 percent record as captain. In his only ODI in that role, New Zealand achieved a splendid victory against Australia in a VB Series match in 2001-02. Cairns made a vital 31 in New Zealand's 235, and then took the crucial wicket of Michael Bevan, as Australia folded for 212.
S Rajesh is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo.