There is nothing quite like a home series against India. The Blackcaps are well suited, because they can’t perform too much worse than the last time they played cricket.
Anything would be an improvement, but it’s the little things that Kane and his men need to rediscover. To me, format matters little in the discussion of what went wrong in Australia.
Let’s be honest, the basic cricket fundamentals went missing didn’t they?
With a backdrop of color, noise and home comforts, this series is no doubt going to draw a large crowd and thus the perfect opportunity for the hosts to regain a lost stride, while making a statement in the process.
The sense of optimism that followed the Blackcaps across the Tasman ahead of their series against Australia was short lived. By the time Tom Blundell brought up his Test century, on debut at the MCG, that optimism had died a slow and painful death because the great individuality of that one innings had been at odds to the dismal team showing.
Perhaps, apart from Blundell and Latham, it was the collective non-fight that New Zealanders hadn’t seen for some time which hurt the most.
Nothing short of a humiliating defeat was handed to captain Kane and his men over there, plus we were reminded that the selectors aren’t always quite in tune with what is best for the balance of the side.
Tim Southee, famously left on the sidelines for that last Test in Sydney, admitted he and coach Gary Stead had agreed to disagree on the matter, but making those comments just two days out from the series opener against India suggests that the pain from the entirety of that tour still lingers.
But that pain can and should be a good thing for the Blackcaps.
One can’t help but expect at least one game in this upcoming series to be a complete domination by the hosts. Look at history, just last summer when the Blackcaps were out of answers and needing to find something against India who were dominant to start, their bowlers came out and rolled them for 92 runs with the series on the line. Previous Indian tours with squads stacked in talent have had similar meltdowns on pitches that provide far more life, and challenge to batsman, that what Kohli and co will ever get in the sub-continent.
History shows us that when their backs are against the wall, the Blackcaps respond well.
Unlike the small serving last summer, this time round we get the full Indian diet of cricket, with five T20 internationals followed by three ODI’s and two Tests. The latter may not rank much in terms of looking ahead to the T20 World Cup, but the Blackcaps need a Test series win to restore some of the faith that may have been lost in December and early January.
And then there is Hamish Bennett. Boy, what a feel-good selection that was.
Bennett is perhaps the most deserving of selections that the frequently out of touch selectors have made in recent memory. Plus, they managed to select Ish Sodhi (not quite the sure thing you’d expect in terms of backing by the group) and find room for Blair Tickner, for the T20 portion at least. You’d have to say that these selections were just as much a necessity due to injury of some big names, but it is going to make for exciting viewing nonetheless.
To respond to the pressure in kind, Bennett and his bowling mates certainly have nothing to lose over the next week or two.
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