Just a couple of a weeks ago,Daniel Vettoris men looked like a typical New Zealand team at home. When the modest bunch with few big names defeated the T20 world champions twice,it seemed like a rerun of the David versus Goliath tale that the fans here have seen several times before.
The famous ingenuity of the perpetual underdogs was being celebrated by a nation that takes pride in its self-sufficiency despite limited resources. But as the teams returned to Christchurch,the city the hosts had left with the morale-boosting tour-opening win under their belt,questions were being asked again if this Kiwi side had the wherewithal to challenge the visiting Indians.
Two glittering knocks by Virender Sehwag and a Sachin Tendulkar gem have taken the shine off the Kiwis show. The panic button was pressed by Vettori after the abandoned game in Wellington and Ross Taylor gave a fair idea of how the post-2nd ODI team meeting had gone when he said,Dan told us this was a must-win game.
Its an obvious fact that the team cant afford to lose another game after being 1-0 down in a five-match series. The Dan has told us made it clear that the skipper had cracked the whip.
But the million-dollar question remains: Has the celebrated Kiwi resourcefulness and originality come up with a plan to stop Sehwag? Taylor said: We have to bowl a tight line. They like width. Weve been punished square,and the grounds here are small on the square,so we have to get them to hit down the ground more. If we bowl a heavy ball and force them to hit straight,itll help us set better fields.
It looks perfect on paper but the Kiwis are aware that bowlers can go blank when Sehwag is on song. When Taylor left the media room,he was seen asking a reporter if Sehwag was fit for Sundays game. There was no confirmation about his fitness Sehwag batted with a runner on Friday due to cramps but the same XI is expected to take the field.
Raina on show
Ask the question of the Kiwi tactics of not allowing batsmen to take advantage of the short square boundaries to Suresh Raina,and he says that his strokes neither depend on the dimension of the ground,nor are they pre-meditated.
It is important to see what lines they are bowling. If they bowl more full tosses or yorkers,my plan is to stay on the off-stump and see if I can clear the boundary. That is why I play more strokes on the on-side, he said.
Sundays game becomes more important considering New Zealands recent history of clawing their way out of a similar hole. During their last ODI series at home,they were 1-0 down after two games. But they went on to win the D/L method-dominated series 2-1. At AMI Stadium on Sunday,expect them to lay mine-fields,create a smoke-screen and plan sudden ambush to live up to their image of a never-say-die unit. But will Davids sling shots hit the bulls-eye?
India vs NZ 3rd ODI Christchurch
• The 36,500 capacity ground has undergone two name changes. Originally called Lancaster Park,it was renamed Jade Stadium in 1998. In 2007,it was renamed AMI Stadium.
• India have lost all five ODIs they have played at the AMI Stadium,Christchurch,four against New Zealand and one against Australia.
• New Zealand have won 25,lost 18 in 43 matches played here. Since 2000,they’ve won 12 and lost three. New Zealand average 30.40 runs per wicket at this venue,while India average 19.19.
• In the last encounter between the two teams on January 1,2003,New Zealand achieved a five-wicket win over India.
• A record total of 24 sixes were hit in the first Twenty-20 international at the AMI Stadium on February 25.