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Sidharth Monga in Christchurch
February 24, 2009
Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Daniel Vettori believe a major part of the upcoming tour will come down to the conditions, which is alien to most of the Indian team. Vettori said that though the pitches had improved a lot, the weather could play a part in deciding many of the games.
"India have come with a formidable reputation, and they've earned it over the last couple of years with the way they've played cricket," Vettori said. "But I suppose we enjoy playing at home, we feel a lot more comfortable here and we've got a pretty good record. Hopefully those things play in our favour, but we also understand this is one of our biggest challenges.
"I think it comes back to our conditions, and hopefully we know those and we can perform in them. I think the wickets are going to be very good, the weather may play a small part in it, but the ability to contain the Indian top order, with the likes of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir in it, is probably going to be crucial to our success."
India have been trying to make the best of whatever time they have got to train here in their first week in New Zealand. "Usually we practise for two to two-and-half hours. Since we had four days here we wanted to make the most out of it," Dhoni said. "Especially when we are practising outdoors, maybe the next day it may rain and we won't get the same facilities so we were practising for three-and-a-half to four hours."
Dhoni said while New Zealand were a young side, their team work meant they could never be written off. "New Zealand is known for the kind of cricket they play as a team. They don't really depend on one individual. That's what is good about us too. We have the kind of players who can really make you win games on their own, but we are always looking for the whole team to perform."
Vettori was happy to play with a young side which has just started winning. "There are a lot of guys who have played under 10 games, but a lot of those were won," Vettori said. "So when you have that feeling within the team coupled with some experienced players, it makes for confidence about their performances. We're hoping to continue on that, the likes of Martin Guptills and Neil Brooms being fantastic in the short time they've been there. We're hoping they can capitalise on what they've done in a short period of time."
But the youngsters are pitted against a star-studded Indian line-up and Vettori is particularly worried about Sehwag and Gambhir, his Delhi Daredevil team-mates. "A lot of our emphasis is on Sehwag, and probably Gambhir, with their opening partnership," Vettori said. "If we can put some pressure on India early then maybe it gives us a chance, but when these guys get away, it's always hard to pull back in.
"We are not underestimating how good a player and how destructive he [Yuvraj Singh] can be. We're just hoping we get to him early by our plans for Gambhir and Sehwag because if we can do that, hopefully he's more vulnerable than when he comes in with a bit of platform."
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Bide your time, put your body behind each delivery, and play with the batsman's mind