The two-Test series against New Zealand marks the time that the Wall and the Artist will not be there to prop up the middle-order.The retirement of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman means that the young order faces the Big Test – shine, swim or sink.
India begin a new chapter in their cricketing history at Hyderabad on Thursday.
The two-Test series against New Zealand marks the first time that the Wall and the Artist will not be there to prop up the middle-order.
The retirement of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman means that the new young order faces the Big Test – shine, swim or sink.
Cheteshwar Pujara, Suresh Raina and Subramaniam Badrinath and Ajinkya Rahane will have to do it on their own without the comfort of knowing that a Dravid or a Laxman will be there to guide them.
And New Zealand must never be underestimated. They have the habit of playing at their best against the top teams.
Back in 2010 when they last toured India, the Kiwis bounced back well after a heavy defeat in the first Test and managed to draw the next two.
This series will be important to both teams as they seek to win back their reputations.
New Zealand let themselves down badly in the West Indies due to a mental block rather than the quality of the opposition.
Firstly, none of their batsmen could capitalise on good starts. Secondly, there were long periods of non-scoring which bogged them down considerably.
Spin will be there to haunt them again. And conditions will be more conducive to this type of bowling.
Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor will be the key players for New Zealand.
Both played well last time with McCullum in particular scoring big runs.
They looked in decent nick in the West Indies but must capitalise on the starts they made there.
So must Martin Guptill. He has now learned to buckle down and play according to the needs of the team and has all the makings of a top-class opener.
If he converts those fifities into hundreds, then he has it made.
Kane Williamson is one of the best young players in the New Zealand team. But he had a tough tour to the West Indies, being burdened with the captaincy in the shorter version and the consistent poor results of his team.
Williamson, in fact, made his mark in India during the last tour with a magnificent innings of 131 in the third Test at Hyderabad.
Spin troubled him in the West Indies but he starts using his feet again, he will be back in the runs for certain.
New Zealand have a good pace bowling unit led once again by the wily Chris Martin. Tim Southee got better as the West Indies tour went along and should make the cut along with the improving Trent Boult.
Injured Daniel Vettori will be missed. However, Jeetan Patel, who had never established himself, gets once more chance.
India’s new season has gone according to script. The one-day success in Sri Lanka has vaulted them to second position on the table.
Two of their leading players, Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir, struck form in Sri Lanka and this will help India feel secure.
Sachin Tendulkar comes back after a long break and hopefully with a bigger appetite for runs.
Zaheer Khan is also back in form which is good news. It will be interesting to see if India give leg spinner Piyush Chawla a chance.
A win against New Zealand is a must. India’s mission this season should be to climb up from the middle of the ladder first.