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The Preview by Siddarth Ravindran
August 30, 2012
New Zealand's Test fortunes seemed on an upswing after upsetting Australia in Hobart, following that up with their biggest Test win ever - an innings-and-301-run thumping of Zimbabwe - and the emergence of several talented young quick bowlers but the optimism has faded over the past few months. The home series against South Africa was always going to be a difficult challenge, but the capitulation on the tour of the Caribbean and against India last week has led to despondence among New Zealand fans. Much has already been written about the frail batting, the scarcity of centuries and the doubts against spin. The Bangalore Test presents a chance to show they are better than they have shown in recent times.
India, meanwhile, couldn't have asked for a better series to gauge how to fill the void left by the retirement of middle-order stalwarts Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. Cheteshwar Pujara will be relieved after marking his return to the Test arena following a one-and-a-half year absence with a big century. Virat Kohli also solidified his position with a fifty and, after a wretched Australia series, India's attack finally looked Test-quality again.
Watch out for
Ross Taylor has repeatedly stressed on the need for his batsmen to make centuries if New Zealand are to compete in Tests. He himself has only one hundred in more than two years, and that too against a lightweight Zimbabwe. With Jesse Ryder sidelined, Brendon McCullum promoted to the opening spot, and Daniel Vettori injured, New Zealand need Taylor to shore up the middle order.
Pitch and conditions
India (likely) 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Virender Sehwag, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 Virat Kohli, 6 Suresh Raina, 7 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Pragyan Ojha, 11 Umesh Yadav.
New Zealand also aren't expected to make too many changes. Taylor said he was backing his batsmen to deliver after the dismal performance in Hyderabad. The one change they could consider is bringing in either Neil Wagner or Tim Southee for Chris Martin, who was dropped as recently as the second Test against West Indies last month.
New Zealand (likely) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Brendon McCullum, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor (capt), 5 Daniel Flynn, 6 James Franklin, 7 Kruger van Wyk (wk), 8 Doug Bracewell, 9 Trent Boult, 10 Jeetan Patel, 11 Neil Wagner/Chris Martin.
Stats and trivia
"You have to reach a stage where mentally as well as with your stroke-play in attack and defence, you can dominate them. Not the other way around by letting them dominate you."
Former New Zealand coach John Wright has some advice for the visitors' batsmen
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Siddarth Ravindran
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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