Moles promises sterner test for India in Napier
Andy Moles, New Zealand's coach, has vowed that in Napier India will face "a lot sterner examination than they did in the first Test match". He admitted they were dejected last night, but they have a proud and honest unit, which will look forward to "give a better account of themselves".
"Yeah we were dejected yesterday but we have analysed that, we have learnt from that, we have cut it off, and now it's gone, and we are looking forward to next challenge," Moles said.
The morning after the Hamilton Test showed the victors and the defeated in different moods. India have opted for two rest days, their players went out for a bit, were relaxed, and headed off to Auckland. The New Zealand players, though, went out for the optional nets, most of them hit the gym, and were determined to put behind them the performance where "none of the players could say they had a good game".
"We have six or seven guys practising today," Moles said. "One of the guys [James Franklin] is continuing even after everyone else has left. One thing about this group that is really impressive is their will to win and their will to get better. From my coaching position it's fantastic. The ideal thing is that we are lucky to have such a good captain. We saw in this game that he led from the front, with the bat, his communication around the team, and the way he puts things across the team is good."
Moles hinted at a few changes in the squad, but more out of fitness reasons than a knee-jerk reaction to the comprehensive defeat. "Jeet [Patel] will come back; he is doing well in his game. I think he scored 44 today to go with his five-for [for Wellington in the State Championship]," Moles said. "We will obviously need cover for Flynny [Daniel Flynn] - he has got a bruised left hand, and also for Iain O'Brien who has got a bit of a side strain. We hope he will be all right. There will be one or two extra people around in our preparation and then Dan [Daniel Vettori] and I will look at the wicket and make the right selection.
Moles said he did not feel there was need for wholesale changes in the side despite the four-day loss. "That's [a knee-jerk reaction] dangerous, isn't it? We are not making any excuses. We underperformed. But the players who were selected a week ago were deemed to be the best players in the country to take part in this Test. For continuity in the side and growth of the team, I think we don't need too many changes."
Apart from Patel, Jacob Oram, who had made himself unavailable, not being sure of his fitness, has put in favourable results in his domestic game, bowling 15 overs against Canterbury in New Plymouth. Moles hinted that Oram could come into the equation too.
Apart from the bowling, the top-order batting has been a major issue for New Zealand, and Moles stressed on the basics. "We know we didn't do the basics well enough," Moles said. "That's a good point to start off from. We just didn't bat long enough in pairs, we didn't bowl well enough in pairs. Something we pride ourselves in is our fielding, but we were disappointed in that too.
Moles wanted his players to play long periods against Harbhajan Singh. "I'll say when we were not losing wickets against him, when we kept playing 10-12 overs against him, we saw it was possible to play against him, and put him away from his original game plan. We have to make sure he has to bowl plenty of balls before he gets success.
"It's all about shot selection. You need to get the tempo of your innings right according to the state of the game. If you are playing on a flat wicket and you are racing away and the opposition isn't bowling too well, obviously the tempo changes as to what we had in first innings here where we needed a different types of innings. Test cricket is all about adapting to the game that's unfolding and our players have got to realise the type of innings that are needed. Over the game we need to score at least 700 runs against this Indian team, and it's easier to score them in the first innings than the last."
But Moles didn't doubt the skills of his inexperienced batting line-up. "We got a very inexperienced line-up, we have mentally strong players, when they have success they will learn," he said. "At the moment they are learning from the failures."
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo