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Martin Crowe - Pitch for bare truth

It would be an upset if Team India lost the ODI series, writes Martin Crowe

Tuesday, March 03, 2022
India will feel at home

The venue for the first ODI is the single biggest positive for India. And here’s why: By playing at Napier the Indian team should be able to sort out their batting.

Napier is the best location for India on this tour because they are best suited to this climate. 

The groundsman here has done a good job on the wicket and over the last 4-5 years the wicket is very flat and batter-friendly. Add to that the short boundaries to the side and you are looking at a par score of 300 on this ground.

If India are able to make the most of the conditions they should get into form going into venues like Wellington and Auckland after this game, where the conditions and wickets aren’t as good. After the first two T20Is, I’m sure they must have discovered that already.

The most important aspect for skipper MS Dhoni will be the batting because so far his men haven’t settled in at the crease.

They have all shown promise but surprisingly there has been little else to show for other than that. Virender Sehwag has gotten to 25 and thrown it away. Suresh Raina has got some runs but Dhoni has struggled and Yuvraj is also yet to realise his full potential here. 

If they bat well it will boost their morale and with the sun on their backs and degrees ranging in the thirties, the Indians will do well to get off to a positive start in the ODI series. With Ishant injured during the second T20I, the chances of him playing unless he is a 100 per cent fit are minimal. Also given the amount of cricket that is yet to be played on this tour it is not a very smart move to risk your critical bowler if he is not totally battle-ready. 

India is a good bowling side and I suspect they will play Praveen Kumar in the eleven. Now that could be interesting because he has not bowled for the last one month and he could be up and down on form. New Zealand – if I read them correctly – will target him in the powerplays. 

A look at the Kiwi camp and what you notice over the last few weeks including the tour of Australia is the competitive nature of their cricket. Don’t forget they beat Australia twice. One hallmark of their cricket has been that they are playing very disciplined cricket at the moment. There are very few wides and no balls when they bowl. They know consistent cricket can ruffle up the Indians.

Time now for the scoreline prediction and I think this will go down to the wire with the cores tied going into the fifth game. 

It would be an upset if India the lost the series. But don’t underestimate the Kiwis who are cracking close finishes what with a maturing Brendon McCullum. I expect McCullum to win atleast two games along with Ross Taylor.

India know they are in a close contest. 

My head says India will win 3-2 but my heart says it will be New Zealand.