Whangarei (New Zealand): If there were any positives to be gained for the badly bruised Indian team from the two-day drawn game against New Zealand XI, chances are they won’t hold any relevance by the time the first ball is bowled in the first Test match in Auckland on Thursday.
Ajinkya Rahane, who scored a total of 51 runs from 5 ODIs against the Kiwis, scored 60 on Monday while Rohit Sharma, who before his 79 in the fourth ODI was struggling for form, also scored 59, though not as fluently as he would’ve wanted to. Indians finished at 313 for seven with Ravichandran Ashwin making a quickfire 51-ball 46.
A decent show, many would say.
But, in reality, more of a mirage if one considers the composition of the opposition team, conditions and the pitch that was on offer for the lone warm-up fixture before the Test series.
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Barring captain and Northern Districts all-rounder Anton Devcich, there wasn’t even a single player in the New Zealand XI team who had played the game at international level. Whangarei, though only a three-hour drive from Auckland, is in New Zealand’s warm sub-tropical climate zone while Auckland, with a slight cloud cover, can be a lot different during this time of the year.
Also, the pitch used for the practice game at Whangarei was a slow and flat wicket. Auckland, as demanded by the Kiwi coach Mike Hesson, could be fast and bouncy.
But, Rohit Sharma, who was captain in the absence of MS Dhoni, still feels that the Indians got what they wanted from the match.
“All the batsmen got in and made some runs which is a good sign before a Test. We are ready and both the batsmen and the bowlers got what they wanted from this match. I am happy with how things went in the last two days,” he said after the two-day game got over.
“Everyone got what they needed to get out of this game. We are looking good and raring to go for the Test. The pitch was a little slow but we are experienced enough to understand what the conditions would be like in Auckland,” Rohit said.
The Indian team is trying hard to get rid of the scars of the ODI series loss but Rohit, even though he tries his best, cannot hide the disappointment.
“At this point, you have to put everything behind. It was very disappointing to lose the series. But we have to focus on what is coming next. The two Tests will be crucial. We know we will be playing away for a while now. We have to be at our best to beat them,” he added.
The practice match meant that the Indians were left without any break in between the ODI and Test series but Rohit isn’t complaining.
“We have got to accept what is in front of us. We knew it was going to be very hectic. Touchwood, there is no injury. We get a day off tomorrow (Tuesday) and next day we might have practice before the Test.”
Rohit said that the team should be given time to settle down.
“When we were here last time, we won the Tests and the ODIs. So, that is the positive side we have to take. It is a young team.”
ALSO SEE - Match Pictures from Whangarei