'Got what we wanted from practice game' - Rohit
The New Zealand XI for the tour match against the Indians had only one international player in captain Anton Devcich, and the two-day affair would have meant little more than a centre-wicket practice opportunity in a game environment for the Indians. Rohit Sharma, their captain, was satisfied with what his side had been able to take out of the opportunity on a flat pitch. He said the fast bowlers had a good workout, and the batsmen also had a decent hit.
"We got what we wanted from this practice game," Rohit said. "All the batsmen got in and made some runs, which is a good sign before a Test. We are ready and both the batsmen and the bowlers got what they wanted from this match. I am happy with how things went in the last two days. We are looking good and raring to go for the Test."
The top order of M Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara all got starts but the highest anyone of them managed was 33. Rohit did not read too much into it. "I won't say it is disappointing. They had a decent outing in the middle. They got a feel. It is always disappointing to not get runs. It is not an issue. I am sure it is a matter of one good innings and things will change quickly. That is what I feel and I am sure those guys also feel the same."
Rohit said all his bowlers were able to get some overs in, and felt Ishwar Pandey's performance (3 for 42) stood out. "If you look at their bowling analysis, they probably bowled 15 overs each, which is pretty good on day one. We had to rotate the bowlers. We had to see all the fast bowlers who were in the squad.
"Pandey bowled really well. Given the conditions, he stuck to his plans which is why he got rewarded with three wickets. All the other three fast bowlers also did well. They did not get the wickets they wanted. But Pandey was the one who got really stuck there."
Rohit himself made 59 during a two-and-a-half-hour batting stint in the game and said he was feeling good about his game at the moment. "My state of mind is really good. Nothing to worry about. I am enjoying my game. It is a different ball-game now. The Tests are different. It was good to have got some hit before the Test. So looking forward to the first Test."
The Indians had only a day between the fifth ODI in Wellington and the tour game, and will have two days to travel to Auckland and get in some more practice ahead of the first Test. Rohit said one had to be mentally ready to deal with the hectic schedule, and that the Indians had been using the time they had between the one-dayers to work on their games.
"We got enough time during the one-dayers. We had three days [actually two] in between every ODI. Everyone used that time really well. They worked on what they wanted to work on. It is up to every individual how they want to prepare for a game. I might be different from someone else. Someone might be different from me.
"We have got to accept what is in front of us. We knew it was going to be very hectic. Mentally we have got to be ready and everyone is ready. It is all about how you adapt to all this mentally. Touch wood, there is no injury. We travel tomorrow, get a day off tomorrow and next day we might have practice before the Test. [That] is the only day we get to see what we can do.
"We got to get back together as soon as possible because there is only one day to have a good team session. There are two guys who are missing, MS and Virat. Hopefully, we can go to Auckland and get together. It is really important that we get together and play as a team."
Rohit said it was not going to be easy for a young India side, with many players touring New Zealand for the first time. "It is going to be a huge challenge playing away from home conditions. It is not that we have not done well outside. When we here last time we won the Tests and the ODIs. So that is the positive side we have to take. It is a young team. Lot of guys have come here for the first time. They are getting there. Everyone knows what needs to be done bowling on these pitches, what lengths, what line, what shots to play and what not to.
"Hopefully we will get a day in Auckland and we will go and see how the conditions are and prepare accordingly."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo