India in New Zealand 2013-14 February 1, 2014

Tight schedule demands that India move on quickly


Whoever draws up the Indian team's schedule must find it hard to differentiate between men and machines. MS Dhoni and his men have been given the luxury of a single day's break after the late-night finish to the ODI series on Friday, before they begin their sixth match in a fortnight - a two-day warm-up before the Tests.

On that rest day, they had to take a morning flight from Wellington to Auckland and then make a bus trip further north to Whangarei, to play a New Zealand XI composed of fringe domestic players and a few Under-19 ones.

Regardless of the quality of the opposition, India will feel fortunate the weather appears clear enough to allow the game to go ahead. On their previous trip to South Africa, their warm-up for the Tests was limited to practice sessions because rain wiped out the tour game in Benoni.

The new arrivals M Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav and Wriddhiman Saha joined the rest of the squad two nights before the Wellington ODI. They will have had three days to acclimatise to this isolated part of the world ahead of the Whangarei match.

Whangarei is the northernmost of all the North Island venues this series and appears extremely calm and quiet, even by New Zealand standards. The Indians probably won't mind that at all. They have next to no time to forget the 0-4 drubbing in the one-dayers, to forget they have failed to win their last seven ODIs, and refocus their minds to the longest format. These surroundings will only help them.

Their opponents - the New Zealand XI - have been in the news only because of two high-profile pullouts that have robbed the side of whatever star quotient it had. Test openers Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford were picked initially to have a first look at the Indian attack in Whangarei. Just after the announcement Fulton, who was to have led the team, pulled out. He decided that a first-class Plunket Shield match was a far more intensive workout than a single-innings practice fixture. Rutherford followed suit, and promptly cracked 108 off 107 balls for Otago against Auckland at Eden Park's outer oval, adjacent to where the first Test will be played.

There are only four days until the start of the first Test. India will hope that time and the five fresh faces will be enough to overcome those four demoralising ODI losses.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Lokesh on February 2, 2014, 6:42 GMT

    Wonder why there is so much hatred towards dhoni and the fact that CSK players are given much more chances than others is this because of the fact that CSK has been the best team in IPL and come on this is international cricket why is IPL being dragged into question here? india have a lead spinner in ashwin and he is wicketless but who is there to replace him and raina was dropped many argue that he was given lot of chances just because he was a CSK player then just think of rohit sharma and the failures which he had earlier and he was not a csk player.Jadeja is maturing as a player and its time that we focus on cricket rather than blaming the skipper or a tournament.

  • Dummy4 on February 2, 2014, 1:12 GMT

    It is going to be tough for Team India to defend world cup, especially in 2015 (Aus, Nz), 2019 (Eng). As we can see, subcontinent (SL, IND) teams are a threat in the subcontinent. It the pitches in NZ and AUS, then to be on the bouncy side. My picks will be any from AUS or SA. 2019 is too far fetched. Playing in English conditions for IND has not been that great either. So again, a tough road ahead. Lucky to be in Semi-finals, I would say. Gamphir and Yuvi, do not have to feel bad, as the next time IND would be a touch crack is most likely 2013. By the time, most players there generations would be commentators :-)

  • Dummy4 on February 1, 2014, 20:30 GMT

    I have a lot more confidence for NZ in the tests now. But India must still be favourite. Hopefully they are shell shocked from the shallacking in the one dayers!

  • Dummy4 on February 1, 2014, 18:03 GMT

    its not the last SA and NZ tours,... overall Raohit is not a opener in ODIs Sehwag and Rohit comparison is like Elephant and rat...... Almost 99% of wins in ODis are given by first three batsman,,,, we dont have 1&2.. If youdont have openers just dhoni bat at 1

  • London on February 1, 2014, 17:45 GMT

    India only have themselves to blame for cutting what was a full tour short. They're a popular team in NZ but wont remain that way if they keep shafting the fans to keep their own agenda. Same thing happened in the South African tour. Maybe some sweet justice they keep losing.

  • sai on February 1, 2014, 16:24 GMT

    The only point of this tour was to bring money to the cash strapped NZ board so that they will support the BCCI in the ICC table. That is also the reason India are going to be playing 5 tests in England in the summer. To get the ECB's support. It appears to have worked though, but at the expense of Indian fan.

  • yuvraj on February 1, 2014, 15:57 GMT

    We have good players of test in the order or Pujara, Virat, Vijay and Rahane. And other batters will revolve around them to give the enough impetus to pose some challenging totals. I am not sure about Rohit and Dhawan, who both will be the part of the playing XI, and who really are not going to contribute anything for the team. Even a certain Ashwin plays better than these two at away matches. Rohit, for all the buzz about his "talents", is a liability in the team.

    I don't even want to discuss about our bowling. Let us leave it to Zak & Co to do whatever they want to do!

    We should show some mettle atleast in tests. Hope these Three to Four new guys, will help in changing the team spirit.

  • Ashok on February 1, 2014, 14:28 GMT

    Hopefully the 5 new players- Vijay, Pujara, Zaheer, Yadev & Saha will bring a new outlook for India. Saha never gets a chance to play in the XI because Dhoni is blocking his way. The other 4 should be in the XI- barring Dhoni's favourite, Ishant is kept out. Vijay & pujara will strengthen the batting whilst ZAK & Yadev will add to the pace attack. Pujara brings stability & a solid sheet anchor to the batting- so lacking in the ODI's. He is still the leader of the Test batting average of over 66 in 21 Tests.India never tried Mishra for the ODI's. He would have been worth trying to see whether he can change the mind set of the NZ batsmen. For a 5 day tests India would have been better to have a RH leg spinner like Mishra in the side. The newcomers will surprise the NZ side with some of the missing qualities if they settle down. Just a week of conditioning in NZ conditions is not adequate but the same guys who went straight into the SA Tests did very well. Better Luck in the Test series!

  • Dummy4 on February 1, 2014, 12:11 GMT

    India really have themselves to blame for this mess. You shorten down a series due to the fact you believe new zealand is a minnow. Then cram everything in together.

  • aniket on February 1, 2014, 11:53 GMT

    All those who think pujara shuld be included in odi's. Rlly, as we all know he had a knee surgery last year. God forbid if he attains a injury again in odi's especially in death overs which require quick singles. Then i don't think i gonna forgive selectors. Moreover in odi he'll have to change his technique slightly which is not good coz he is by-far best test batsman india have produced after fab-4 nd kholi. Who cares about ODI series. After t20 nd IPL its a dying format. Pinnacle of cricket is still test nd we indians want our best batman in the team. Beware NZ.., if u think kholi is most talented batsman in our squad nd will create prblem then there another thing coming. Pujara will frustate ur bowler to extent that they won't attempt bouncers any-more against anyone.

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