|Shikhar Dhawan, in Auckland
Calcutta: Barring their last tour of New Zealand in 2009, where India won both the Test and ODI series, they have always struggled on the fast and bouncy wickets there.
Former New Zealand pacer Simon Doull, however, feels the current crop of Indian batsmen are well equipped to face the New Zealand pacers on green tops.
Doull said the new-look Indian side, radiating with youthful exuberance, is full of stroke-makers who have grown up playing on better surfaces, facing the likes of Mitchell Johnson and Dale Steyn in the IPL.
“Gone are the days when one could send the visitors to a green-tinge deck and they would be worried. For one, India’s batting order won’t fall over like the West Windies did (in the earlier series). From one to seven, they’ve got quality batsmen. Guys like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni will hurt you, whether it’s pace or spin you bowl to them,” Doull wrote in his column for stuff.co.nz.
“Young Indian batsmen are a lot better than they used to be at facing pace. They’ve grown up playing on better surfaces, facing the likes of Johnson and Steyn in the IPL — so they are far better equipped to play good, quick, short-pitched seam bowling. Their ability to play spin is undoubted, so it will be a real mountain for the New Zealand bowlers to climb,” wrote Doull.
The Indian team arrived in Auckland on Monday for the five-match ODI series which would be followed by two Tests next month.
Doull said the upcoming series, starting January 19, will be a real test for New Zealand.
“We’ve seen the ramble that has been the West Indies come and go — now the Black Caps have got their big summer task ahead of them: a one-day series against the world’s best at that format, India. It’s going to be a hell of a task to win this series. India are extremely good,” he wrote.
The 44-year-old Doull, who featured in 32 Test matches and 42 ODIs for the Black Caps, said the pitches in New Zealand will hold no concerns for the Indians.
“Look at Napier — a hard, fast quick surface that doesn’t go sideways; same with Hamilton and Aucklandů plenty of runs in both those wickets. They will love them.”
Doull, whose international career came to a premature end following back and knee injuries, said the hosts should keep an eye on a couple of new guys in the India line-up.
“Stuart Binny is a genuine all-rounder — a powerful hitter, who bowls some sneaky medium pace that could play well on the Kiwi pitches. Varun Aaron is a quick for the Delhi DareDevils and should catch the eye. He has been having injury worries on and off for the past two years.
“A bit like Umesh Yadev, he’s got genuine pace — and is a guy they’ve got an eye on to the future for seam bowling. India in the past decade have struggled to find genuine quicks — but they’ve got actually a good group of seamers now,” he wrote.
Doull said a 3-2 result, win or lose, will be a good series tally for the hosts.
Talking about the New Zealand players, Doull said the running between the wickets needs an improvement.
“Gone are the days when the Indians had a few draught horses in the field; these guys are a super-slick fielding unit. There aren’t too many places where you can hit the ball and pick up the easy ones as you could in the past.”
Doull said he would be interested to see what the Black Caps do with their bowling attack.
“I believe Adam Milne deserves a good opportunity. He got only two overs in Queenstown against the Windies — and is worth a shot early in the series against India. We need to see whether he has the ability to foot it at this level.