Hosts hoping for a sporting Hamilton track
New Zealand will look to ride the momentum from a thumping win last night, and also the bounce the pitch offered, when they go into the Test series that begins this Wednesday. Three days ago they looked an outplayed side, but the Auckland win has changed a lot of things in the New Zealand camp.
"Cricket is a momentum game," Andy Moles, their coach, said. "It was a good win last night. Of course the Indians will say that they won the series. That's fine. Our answer is there have been six games of cricket, they have won three, and we have won three. So we are level going into the [Test] series. They outplayed us in the one-dayers, but we are looking forward to the Test series.
"We know that India are a fine side. We respect that, but we are not scared of them. And last night it showed. We got early wickets and put them under pressure. They make mistakes like everybody else."
More than the win, New Zealand will draw confidence out of the fact that they bowled India out in 36.3 overs. And also that India seemed to not adjust to a pitch that offered seam movement and good bounce. New Zealand are not getting ahead of themselves with it, though, because India will have more time to adjust to such pitches in the Test series, and also because they will get better difficult-pitch batsmen in Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.
"The pitch had bounce so they were not able to play with the freedom," Moles said. "But Tests are different. They have a different set of batsmen and they will be looking to carrying on the success they have enjoyed in the last 18 months."
Iain O'Brien, who over the least two weeks has taken one of the worst beatings of his short career, looked excited with the bounce. Would he want similar pitches as the one at the Eden Park for the Tests?
"Not necessarily the seam movement, but the bounce," O'Brien said. "Just nice go get a deck that has good carry and good bounce through to the keeper. Just the bounce that made life more interesting for a bowler. It's nice to dismiss them in 36 overs or so. It's a good thing to do, knock them over. The Test wickets won't be as flat as one-dayers, there will be a little bit in them."
Moles shared the sentiment. "After what we saw last night, the wicket there was in our favour," Moles said. "The curator [at the Seddon Park] is known to prepare good wickets. We are looking forward to a fine cricket wicket, and if it bounces it will be great. We don't want to play on a green seamer, we want to have a good game of cricket, and I am sure that's what we will get."
The Seddon Park pitch right now wears a green look, but it is not ready. A lot of that grass will obviously be taken off, and it is expected to be a pitch that could open up a debate whether to play two spinners or not. Gary Kirsten, India's coach, said before the Auckland ODI that they hadn't yet made their mind on whether they wanted to play three pace bowlers. In the last Test played in Hamilton, New Zealand went in with both Daniel Vettori and Jeetan Patel. Between them Vettori and Patel took seven wickets as New Zealand beat England by 189 runs.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo