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November 11, 2010
Match FactsFriday, November 12
The Big Picture
New Zealand started the first Test in Ahmedabad short of confidence and a touch unsure about a few of their players. They ended it on a high, but a couple of concerns remain: Can the opener Tim McIntosh, if he is picked, prove to the world that he is not a walking wicket? Will BJ Watling get some runs at No.3? How will the batsmen handle a track that supposedly has more bounce? The Ahmedabad pitch was flat and the middle order cashed in. Ross Taylor expects the track at Uppal, hosting its first Test match, will have a bit more for the spinners. Hyderabad has hosted three Tests before this, all against New Zealand, at the multi-purpose Lal Bahadur Stadium.
India went to Ahmedabad with a couple of worries - the batting form of Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid, and the bowling form of the spin twins Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha. Dravid scored a hundred in the first innings, but Gambhir and the spinners didn't have much to smile about on a batsmen-friendly track. All of them practised hard in the nets in Uppal. As ever, Dravid had a long net session. Gary Kirsten fired down short balls from a tennis racquet and Dravid spent his time swaying away or riding the bounce.
The conditions are slightly damp as there was some rain earlier in the week and It will be interesting to see whether the strip will provide some seam movement on the first day. Some have said that there might be bit more spin on this new pitch but Uppal has traditionally produced batsmen-friendly surfaces. We will have to wait and see how this particular track turns out.
Form guide(most recent first)
New Zealand: DLLWD
Watch out for...
Ross Taylor's attacking instinct could come in handy if the pitch indeed helps the bowlers. He has the skill and the mindset to play with controlled aggression. It's easy to imagine what he is likely to do: he will sweep a lot, he will shuffle to the off and try to work Harbhajan to the on side, and hang back to cut Ojha at every opportunity.
Zaheer Khan looked like a caged tiger in Ahmedabad. He couldn't get much seam movement with the new ball and couldn't reverse the old one. He just didn't lie down and wonder though. He bowled quite a few short deliveries - most of them well-directed - and tried to create something out of nothing but was thwarted by the pitch and the disciplined New Zealand batsmen. On a pitch that is likely to have more bounce, he could be more potent.
Pitch and conditions
The pitch has been prepared with a mixture of red and black soil - a combination which is common in the state of Andhra Pradesh. This has been a batsmen-friendly venue in the past and the last time it hosted an ODI, in November 2009, Sachin Tendulkar hit 175. "We are hoping and are also pretty confident that it would turn out to be a result-oriented one and the wicket is also expected to last five days," YL Chandrasekhar, the curator said.
Meanwhile India captain MS Dhoni says the wicket has been a good for one for Twenty20 games and one-dayers. "It's not difficult to judge this wicket if you see past performances in games that have been played. The wicket is on the flatter side but has a bit of bounce which allows the batsman to play freely at the same time."
Jesse Ryder is unlikely to bowl in the second Test due to a stiffness in his calf. James Franklin has replaced Hamish Bennett in the squad and could step in.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Tim McIntosh, 2 Brendon McCullum, 3 BJ Watling, 4 Ross Taylor,5 Jesse Ryder, 6 Kane Williamson, 7 Daniel Vettori (capt), 8 Gareth Hopkins (wk), 9 Jeetan Patel, 10 James Franklin, 11 Chris Martin
India could have to choose between Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma. Dhoni admitted it would be a tough choice. "That's a difficult one.Both of them are fit right now. The only thing that differentiates them is the length and the line they bowl. Sreesanth is more of a bowler who bowls a fraction up to the batsman. Ishant is more of a bowler who hits just back of a length," he said. "It is a difficult pick but at the same time you try to justify your decision by having a clear look at the kind of wicket that will be provided. Accordingly you decide which is the bowler most suited to the conditions."
India (probable): 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 VVS Laxman, 6 Suresh Raina, 7 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Pragyan Ojha, 11 Sreesanth/Ishant Sharma
Stats and trivia
"Some of the guys in the Indian side, I have watched since when I was young and I still do. I admire them but I believe the key for me is not to let it register that you are playing with these guys. Like they say, you play the ball not the man"
Kane Williamson on how he plans to retain his focus
"He's [Sachin Tendulkar] preparing the same way, he looks the same - calm and cool. Whatever he does for each and every Test match, he's doing the same. I don't think the anxiety level is too high and hopefully he will get the ton here.
MS Dhoni isn't worried about Tendulkar being on the cusp of 50-test hundreds
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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