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Determined India aim to level series

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Calcutta/Hamilton: India did not start the tour of New Zealand on the right note, losing the first of the five ODIs in Napier on Sunday. But as they travel to Hamilton, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his troops would look forward to changing the trend and lead their side to victory when action resumes with the second ODI, at the Seddon Park, on Wednesday.

In Napier, New Zealand peppered the Indian batsmen with the short ball. But India did counter it, with pulls and hooks. However, that ploy did not give India the result they would have hoped for. Obviously, Brendon McCullum was happy with the way his bowlers pulled off the desired result.

But Dhoni maintained that Indian batsmen would not back down from or be intimidated by the short ones. “One of the options is to not to play the shot, but our strength has been to play it.

“At times, we won’t be successful because it is a difficult shot to play. That said, most of our batsmen like to play it since this is our strength. Especially in overseas conditions, we need to play and master it because you cannot have bowlers bowl short to you always.

“With two bouncers allowed, you cannot leave all. We can always pick and choose when to play and when not to.”

With this frame of mind, it is clear India are gearing up to avenge the defeat and square the series. Also, they are keen to use this series as a rehearsal for the 2015 World Cup, as Dhoni had said before the tour began.

Pacer Mitchell McClenaghan, however, may be enough to put a spanner in India’s recovery mission. The four vital wickets he picked up on Sunday paved the way for New Zealand’s victory. As Dhoni maintained, when McClenaghan send Kohli back, India’s hopes ended.

This ability to strike, and strike repeatedly, has given him the best strike-rate ever for bowlers who have taken at least as many wickets as he has. McClenaghan strikes at 20.4 Impressive figures to say the least.

Before the series, McCullum had said that New Zealand would target taking wickets rather than trying to contain India and would not hesitate to play both McClenaghan and Adam Milne.

Milne, however, has been rendered doubtful for the rest of the ODI series against India, after he sustained a side strain during the first ODI in Napier. Milne underwent a MRI scan after arriving at Hamilton, to ascertain the damage.

According to a report in the New Zealand Herald, Milne will be out of action until at least the end of the ODI series. The report added that according to medical advice, Milne will take at least four to six weeks to get back to his full shape.

Milne’s pace colleague Mitchell McClenaghan said he was “absolutely gutted for the man”.

McClenaghan said New Zealand will look to play attacking cricket in the series and send a message to other powerful cricketing nations by some consistent performance against world champions India.

“These guys are good players but at no point are we going to back away from a fight,” said McClenaghan, who had a slight verbal confrontation with Indian opener Rohit Sharma in the opening one-dayer in Napier.

“We’re not going to be nice to them, we’re going to get in their face and let them know that we’re here and we’re going to put our mark on the build-up to the World Cup.

“It’s a huge series against one of the best sides in the world. Leading into a World Cup in our back yard we want to have consistency,” McClenaghan was quoted as saying, in a website.

India would have to get used to the fact that their spinners may not be as effective in New Zealand as they are in the subcontinent. “Their roles will change when they play outside the subcontinent. The home team will never make pitches that turn,” Dhoni had opined.

“Whenever we have played with four fast bowlers, two things happen. One, the captain gets banned. Two, we lose. So, they are not good statistics And I want to play in this series.”

Match starts: 6.30am IST (Wednesday)