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August 22, 2012
The previous time New Zealand toured India, they lost the three-match Test series 0-1. Among their bowlers who sent down ten overs or more in the series, none could manage an average of below 34 - in fact, only Chris Martin and Daniel Vettori (who is out of this series with injury) averaged below 56. If they are to be more effective this time round, it will be important to get the ball to swing for as long as possible, according to pace-spearhead Martin.
"If you can swing it for longer, with conventional swing, you feel in the game more," Martin said ahead of the first Test, which begins in Hyderabad on Thursday. "You feel - even through long periods of not getting a wicket - that you are still in the game."
Especially against the Indian batsmen, who are used to batsmen-friendly tracks, a bit of swing would come in very handy, Martin said. "I suppose against guys who are used to batting on flat wickets, perhaps not using their feet as much, the swinging ball is still a valuable thing to have.
"We are trying to get a pack mentality and a good set of plans going for each batsman. These are things you have to use on an ad-hoc kind of way in this part of the world, and be flexible. And the guys have enough skills to swing the ball and enough variety in the attack to feel competitive."
The conditions in Hyderabad, in the lead-up to the Test, have been encouraging, he said. "It [the pitch] had reasonable carry, a good batting surface but not your traditional Indian track. Enough bounce for us to challenge the edge. And it has been humid, not hot as normal but definitely cloudy. The ball has swung [in the nets], and I think it is a better one than the ball we used in the West Indies that tended to not swing for very long."
New Zealand are coming off a poor tour of the Caribbean, where they lost eight of nine matches, including both Tests. Martin was left out of the XI for the second Test, and that has raised his desire to do well, he said. "I'm always hungry and to get dropped, as a senior guy, is enough of a motivating factor to make you even hungrier. You either take it on your chin or run away with your tail between your legs. I'm not that kind of guy, so I am quite looking forward to preparing like I am getting another game."
New Zealand will not be intimidated by India, Martin said. "There are a lot of reputations on the other side we have to deal with. This young group doesn't care about that stuff: it showed in Hobart, and at various stages through their careers, that they get in the fight and they match you quite well.
"[Even on the 2010 tour] we competed pretty well. Generally, if you get the Indian side for a par score in their own conditions, you have done pretty well. And we were matching [India with] the bat up until the final game."
New Zealand had drawn the first two Tests in that series, after giving India a scare in the first, where it was left to Harbhajan Singh to dig India out of trouble in the second innings with a century. In the third though, two batting failures meant India won by an innings and took the series.
VVS Laxman, typically, had played a role in helping India save that second Test, scoring 91 in a crucial partnership with Harbhajan. Laxman and Rahul Dravid's absence - both having retired this year - could add a bit of pressure on India, Martin said. "I understand from past experience that when you lose people like that from your change room, you are looking around and trying to figure out [where the] your bulk of runs is going to come from. If you don't have a Laxman or a Dravid, I'm sure it will play on your mind a little, make the pressure on your own game a little bit tougher. The experience side of things is something they will lack."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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