India confident of success
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's India flew out to New Zealand on Thursday confident they can improve on a miserable Test record there.
Last Updated: 19/02/09 8:32am
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's India flew out to New Zealand on Thursday confident they can improve on a miserable Test record in the Black Caps' back yard.
Not only have India had just one series victory in New Zealand back in 1968, they have not won a Test match there for more than 30 years.
But coach Gary Kirsten believes the team, riding high on the back of home series wins over Australia and England, are now capable of dealing with the country's unfamiliar weather and pitches.
"We have a very balanced team - in batting, pace and spin bowling," said the South African. "We are capable of playing in any conditions.
"Conditions will be vastly different and the weather would be cold with a bit of rain. But we have the players to overcome these."
The six-week tour opens next Wednesday with the first of two Twenty20 internationals. India and New Zealand will also play five one-dayers and three Tests.
The previous tour in 2002 was a nightmare for India, who, under Sourav Ganguly, lost both Tests in "windy" Wellington and Hamilton inside three days, before being thrashed 5-2 in the one-day series.
Seamer-friendly pitches and cold and windy conditions all made life difficult for the tourists, with only Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid scoring a half-century apiece.
"It's going to be a tough tour," captain Dhoni told reporters.
"Every place has its challenges. Foreign players come to India and struggle against spin and bounce. We would focus on planning well and in executing those plans. The results will follow."
Kirsten is not worried about the absence of any practice match ahead of the Twenty20 opener on 25th February, saying four days of net sessions will put his team in gear.
Only six players in the current squad - Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Dravid, Venkatsai Laxman, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh - have played a Test in New Zealand before.
"Conditions can vary in New Zealand," Kirsten said. "When the Indian team went there in 2002 the ball was seaming around. But when the West Indies played there recently, the wickets were flat.
"So we can assess the conditions only when we get there."