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‘Test’ for Dhoni – Ind vs NZ 1st Test Preview

sehwag-practiceIndia may have lost the last one-dayer at Auckland as the momentum swung New Zealand’s way but India will still be a handful when the three-Test series begins at the Seddon Park, Hamilton on Wednesday.That’s because the Indian team has a number of players oozing with experience of playing International Cricket in the toughest of conditions than what they will be given by the Host team.

The Indian batting will yet again rely on the start Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir provide. Their unbeaten 201 in the last match played at this venue, the fourth one-dayer on the tour, should provide them enough confidence. Much would depend on how Sehwag plays. If the Delhi dasher continues to score quickly, it’s always trouble for the opposition. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman and Mahendra Singh Dhoni could sound horrendous to many Kiwi bowlers, who hope to somehow get around the big guns. Brent Arnel and James Franklin made it into the NZ squad after a good domestic season who will up for a challenge bowling at these legends. Jacob Oram has been left out after failing the fitness test.

Amel received the call from the team after his good showing in the recently concluded tour against England Lions, and a good performance in the recent four day practice match played against the Indian batsman. James Franklin received a call for his all round performance in a recent domestic match, Franklin scored a unbeaten 156 to help his team to a win.  Source: Newspapers 😛

Martin Guptill will make his debut after a string of good performances at the top of the order against India on the tour so far. Guptill also showed some courageous performances against the mighty Australians in the the recently concluded VB series in Australia, NZ managed to end the tour 2-2 after the final was washed out with NZ well on their way to victory. Guptill will assume the opening responsibilities along side a senior side including Jesse Ryder, Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor and Franklin.

Captain Daniel Vettori will hope his bowlers their Auckland form and trouble the Indians. Experienced Kyle Mills will have to lead the Kiwi attack and will have the company of left-arm pacemen Franklin, who brings in variety, and Arnel as they plot to penetrate the Indian batting wall. It would be interesting to see whether Vettori will play pacemen Chris Martin, or persist with Iain O’Brien.

On the Bowling front, India will have the services of their ace Paceman Zaheer Khan, who will lead the Indian fast bowling attack along-side ishant Sharma who is expected to be fit before the match, Questions about whether India will go with a 5 bowler attack which seems less likely given the conditions, or a regular 4 bowler attack. With Harbhajan taking up responsibilities of  heading the lonely spin department, it will be a contest between Munaf ‘McGrath’ Patel and the ‘Smiling Assasin’ Laximipathy Balaji for securing the last bowler’s spot.

It will be testing times for Captain Mahender Singh Dhoni as he leads the team for a first overseas Test Tour, after he was named the best captian for India in the one-dayers by some Indian legendary cricketers. Dhoni would be welcomed with a ‘green’ top sedane park wicket. Indians were bundles out for a meagre 149 in the last one-day of the 5 match series which India won 3-1 when they batted in overcast conditions. This will also worry captain Vettori, when he sees Zaheer Khan in the bowling line up. With all batsman at peak of their forms, expect a good test match on a possibly good wicket at Hamilton early tomorrow morning.

The Squad

India: MS Dhoni (Captain), Virender ‘Dashing‘ Sehwag, Gautam ‘Gauti‘ Gambhir, Rahul ‘Jammy‘ Dravid, Sachin ‘Master‘ Tendulkar, ‘Very Very Special’ Laxman, Yuvraj ‘Boring‘ Singh, Harbhajan ‘Turbunator‘ Singh, Zaheer ‘Smart‘ Khan, Ishant ‘Lambu‘ Sharma, Munaf ‘McGrath‘ Patel, M Vijay, Amit Mishra, ‘Local‘ Balaji, Dhawal Kulkarni, Dinesh ‘DK‘ Karthik

NZ: Daniel Vettori (Captain), Brent Arnel, Daniel Flyn, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Tim McIntosh, Brendon McCullum, Chris martin, Kyle Mills, Ian O’Brein, Jeetan patel, Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor

Match 18th March 2009, 0330 Hrs IST, 2200 Hrs GMT.

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