New Zealand's green wicket ploy could blow up in their face

They can't underestimate a side with Zaheer, Ishant, Bhuvaneshwar, Shami, Umesh, Aaron and Pandey.

This is one of the most potent pace attacks to leave India's shores. Like their neighbours Australia, New Zealanders too seem to want to start war of words to unnerve the opposition.

Former Kiwi batsman Martin Crowe started the process by urging his country’s curators to prepare green and moist tracks. The dashing batsman who has recently morphed into a delightful columnist wrote that the Kiwis should focus their preparation on exposing the Indian batting line-up which is inexperienced in such conditions.

Taking a cue from Crowe, coach Mike Hesson has asked his bowlers to be aggressive and bowl in the right areas using pace as a weapon.

True, but Crowe and Hesson, if they have done their homework, should be aware that the larger plot is yet to unravel. The current Indian bowlers showed a trailer of their potential when they had the South African batsmen floundering in the previous Test series. This time around, apart from Tests-only veteran Zaheer Khan, the team has Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and Ishwar Pandey in its ranks.

What Crowe and company also need to know is that during the past two seasons — particularly in the current one — Indian domestic cricket is being played on faster and greener tracks.

Those who watched Sachin Tendulkar’s last innings for Mumbai or the quarter-final between Mumbai and Maharashtra will know that the pitches at Lahli and at the Wankhede Stadium were almost like the so-called ‘true’ pitches one sees in Australia, South Africa and England.

The low-scoring games in the current Ranji season bear testimony to the fact that Indian seamers are now learning to bowl in the right areas and are not getting carried away by fast, green tracks. The great Indian ‘dust bowls’ are slowly becoming a thing of the past. Domestic cricketers are now getting used to coping with seam and lateral movement on sprightly pitches which didn’t exist earlier.

Sunil Gavaskar had a word of caution for the Kiwis when he said that green wickets will help India more than the hosts as it will aid our bowlers to get wickets. The saying that ‘the grass is greener on the other side’ may well be what the Indians are looking forward to.

(The writer is a former Cricket Club of India captain and Bombay University cricketer)

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