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Martin Crowe - Pitch for bare truth

Indian batsmen took the game away in Napier but Wellington pitch will even up the contest, writes Crowe

Thursday, March 05, 2022
Momentum has shifted dramatically

The presence of Sachin Tendulkar has made a world of difference to the Indian team in this one-day series. He just gives Virender Sehwag the right balance at the top of the order. Sehwag can afford to play with a lot more composure at the same time very aggressively and attackingly. This has helped the pair put on 3000 runs at an average of 43 and it can only get better from here.

They just play different roles and complement each other very well. With Tendulkar the thing is that he plays every ball with great care and respect. He keeps the good ball away, treats the bad ball with disdain and somewhere in between can also knock the ball around.

Tendulkar knows his game well and has been like that since he was 16 when I first played against him back in 1990. A run machine, Tendulkar loves being out there and certainly there is no ego involved with him. He has got a lovely attitude towards the game and is very gracious for every moment on the field. I think he is a lovely to player to watch. A player, who has amazing talent and is making most of it in international cricket. He is just grateful for the talent and everytime he plays there is a case from his side to entertain the people.

He has set a terrific example to youngsters with the respect he shows and humility. The respect for the opportunities given to him especially makes him a terrific role model. This is paramount in life.

Tendulkar is not going to play forever, but it will depend on how keeps himself and looks after himself in the coming years that will determine how long he will add that extra factor to this Indian one-day team with his experience.

There is anyways a lot of difference between this Indian team and New Zealand side. Clearly the bulk of the side has been around for close to ten years with the addition of interesting and talented newcomers. The core is obviously Tendulkar, Sehwag and MS Dhoni. Yuvraj, Zaheer and Harbhajan were six years ago too. So this experience is the big difference between the two teams, which India has and New Zealand don't.

And going into Wellington for the second ODI apart from the difference in personnel, the conditions will also be a factor. The pitch at Wellington has never been good so that's the problem for both the sides.

It will even up the contest and given the fact that the pitch is not a very good one because it will be slow nip around a little. These factors will certainly bring the Black Caps back in the frame if they bowl well. They are used to playing at Wellington and that will give the hosts a fair chance to square the series there because they play well at the Westpac Stadium.

The other big advantage for the Black Caps is that unlike Napier's McLean Park which has a cricket feel about it, Westpac Stadium is not very cricket friendly. It is more of a rugby ground and that can work in New Zealand's favour. If the Black Caps apply themselves better then they have a fair chance of coming back.

India are definitely the better one-day team going into the series. They are now into the tour have got the focus, look sharp and determined. Not that it was never in question, but it was all a case putting it all together.

Sehwag, Tendulkar and Dhoni did just that as they took the game away from New Zealand and you can expect more of the same in Wellington. There is no doubt that the momentum of the series has shifted dramatically.