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Morrison predicts tough Test series

Calcutta: The West Indies are yet to seriously challenge India in the on-going Test series, but Sourav Ganguly’s team will face a sterner test when they tour New Zealand later this year, feels Danny Morrison.

The former New Zealand fast bowler, here as a TV commentator, thinks it will be an important series for India, considering it will give them another chance to register their first Test series win outside the sub-continent after 1986.

India will play two Tests and seven one-day Internationals in New Zealand during the December-January tour. Morrison thinks just two Tests will make it tougher for Sourav and Co, since the first Test is at Wellington, where India have a poor record.

“If they lose there, they will get just one match to draw level,” said Morrison Wednesday. “The ball does quite a bit in Wellington, moves in the air and off the wicket. Indians don’t enjoy those conditions. Also, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh won’t be too effective there.”

India won the first Test they played in Wellington — in 1967-68 — but lost all three there after that.

“Starting from climate to unfamiliar wickets, swing and seam, most teams from the sub-continent struggle a bit in New Zealand,” observed Morrison, when The Telegraph asked him to specify why India have failed to register a single Test win there since 1975-76.

Morrison, however, is more than impressed by India’s current batting line-up. “The middle-order batsmen need no introduction and they have grown in experience over the years.

“The Indian openers are also doing a good job. In fact, India now must have the best top six in the world,” Morrison said.

About the New Zealand pace attack, he said Shane Bond and Darryl Tuffey are the main bowlers with Ian Butler and Chris Martin supporting them. Chris Cairns, said Morrison, is unlikely for the Tests, though he might return for the ODIs.

Morrison thinks India stand a chance of winning the series if they can manage a draw in the first Test, since the second match is at Hamilton. “That is a good, hard wicket, which plays true for a bigger part of the five days, and offers some turn fourth day onwards.

“India can fancy their chances if they get to bowl in the fourth innings. The spinners will certainly get some purchase during that time of the Test,” noted Morrison, who recorded a ODI hattrick against India in 1993-94.

Morrison said the traditional Indian ploy of preparing wickets to suit their spinners for home Tests acts as a hindrance in their chances of succeeding overseas. “They have realised this and making an effort to get hard, bouncy tracks. That is a step in the right direction.”

Morrison, however, isn’t too enthusiastic about New Zealand’s chances in the World Cup. “It’ll be a difficult World Cup for them. Not that the pitches will be too different there, but the conditions will be, and they have this problem of injuries.”

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