The sun was completely out but it wasn’t very hot. The temperature read in the mid 30s, but the humidity remained on the lower side. In other words, Day 1 of the three-day warm-up between Mumbai and New Zealand was a typical Delhi summer day.
Ranji champions Mumbai won the toss and elected to field first. Out came the two New Zealand openers Tom Latham and Martin Guptill and Aditya Tare gave the shining red cherry to Balwinder Singh Sandhu. The seamer measured his run-up and was ready to bowl to right-hander Guptill. Sandhu got one to move away in the air and nipped back sharply after pitching, leaving Guptill clueless in the middle.
In the same over, Sandhu went off “the plan” as he dished one short. Bread and butter for the batsman, who rocked back on to the backfoot and pulled it all the way for a maximum. A clean strike right out of the middle of the blade.
Sandhu returned to bowl in the next over and was generating a nice shape against the right-hander. He was hitting the good length spot consistently and the away movement was troubling Guptill. The 29-year-old continued with the plan for three overs and was rewarded in the fourth.`
A typical dismissal! Pitched on the fourth stump, shaping away and Guptill’s forward defence coughed up a healthy edge for Tare behind the stumps.
The stumper collected it cleanly and Mumbai tasted success early in the contest. Consistency worked against Guptill, and Sandhu revealed it was the plan for the opener.
“The plan for Guptill was basic. Just try and hit the good length area and bowl a fourth stump line. That was the plan and I think it was successful,” said Sandhu at the post-day presser.
After the early breakthrough, the second came for Sandhu in the 25th over when a loose shot from Kane Williamson gave the seamer his second wicket. Mumbai had planned for every visitor batsman and they, Sandhu said, weren’t trying too many things in the middle.
“The plan was to stick to our plan. We had come with preperation for every batsman. We had prepared for every batsmen in the team meetings. I did not try too many things and stuck to my plan because we were up against a superior team.”
With neutral venues introduced from this year, Mumbai got an early taste of things to come at Kotla on Friday. Will the early bite from the wicket help him in the season ahead, Sandhu was quick to respond, “Yes, obviously it’s going to be good to get something from the wicket. Home teams always have wickets favouring them, so if some assistance on neutral venues will be of help.”