For an Indian cricket fan the name Kyle Mills does ring a bell,but he isnt remembered as a paceman with a skull-and-bones danger sign attached to him. In the weeks to come,however,that perception could change as Mills will be leading New Zealands pace attack during the series against India. Going by his pivotal show in New Zealands ODI win over West Indies and their 2-2 draw against Australia,it is expected that a lot will be heard about the unassuming 29-year-old this year,especially with him joining the Mumbai Indians for the Indian Premier Leagues second season.
As we catch up with Mills over the phone from Auckland,a couple of days before India fly out to his country,he sounds impatient for the series to begin. There are no complaints about four months of non-stop cricket,and he is keen to speak about taking on an Indian team which is on a roll. Mills even does his bit by reducing Indias trauma of the 2002 series,saying the pitches wont be under-prepared this time around.
The pitches will be much better than they were the last time the Indians were here,just before the 2003 World Cup. At that time the wickets were under-prepared because wed had a lot of rain. This time the tour is later in the season so things are different. You check the scores of the last few years and youll realise that the conditions are batting-friendly. At the same time,one also needs to understand that India have a quality pace attack, he says.
Mills faces the intriguing prospect of crossing swords with three Indian players in the coming days who will subsequently be his captain,vice-captain and the new-ball partner in the IPL.
It will be interesting to play against my future team mates Sachin Tendulkar,Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan, he says. Im sure it will be good to catch up with them and talk to them about playing in the IPL. It will give me an insight about the team and and coaching staff. I will soak up as much knowledge as I can during my interaction with them. Thatll make the transition easy.
While these inputs will help Mills in the future,for the moment the paceman is keen to lend an ear to skipper Daniel Vettori and all-rounder Jacob Oram two players who represented the Delhi Daredevils and Chennai Super Kings respectively,last year. While Vettori had a close look at India openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir,Oram had a ringside view of Indian captain MS Dhoni.
Daniel bowled a lot to Sehwag during the training nets and got him quite a few times,Mills says. In the coming days Daniel will be sharing this knowledge with the bowling group. Jacob has also got a few thoughts about how to bowl against Dhoni but itll be tough since he sees the ball like a baseball. At the end of the day these are quality players and the Indian team has had an amazing run in the last 18 months. But the knowledge of the players who were involved with the IPL will help us to understand the opposition better. Shane Warnes inputs on his former team mates Ricky Ponting and Mathew Hayden were a part of South African skipper Graeme Smiths blue-print in Australia,for example.
But Mills believes its a two-way street. I can pick the brains of Tendulkar and Harbhajan but they will be asking me questions about the games strategy,match scenarios and how I bowl in different situations, he says. These inputs will gradually trickle down domestic cricket also and that will make cricket a more powerful force.