The pitches in New Zealand have become a lot more batting-friendly over the years, says iconic former batsman Sachin Tendulkar, insisting that India has the “ammunition” to trouble the sprightly hosts during the upcoming series.
Tendulkar, who has been on a record five New Zealand tours since 1990, feels that from seaming tracks during his early trips years, the tracks became high-scoring hard ones during his last tour back in 2009.
“Of late, the Tests in New Zealand have been high scoring and surfaces have changed,” Tendulkar told PTI during an exclusive interview.
India will play five T20 Internationals, three ODIs and two Tests during the tour starting with the shortest format on January 24.
From 2002, when India played ODIs and Tests on green tops, to 2009, when India won only their second Test series in 32 years, Tendulkar has seen it all in New Zealand.
“I remember when we played in 2009, the Hamilton pitch was different compared to other pitches. Other pitches got harder (Wellington and Napier) but not Hamilton. It remained soft.
“But Napier became hard with the passage of time (where Gautam Gambhir scored an epic match-saving 12-hour hundred in 2009). So, from my first tour (in 1990 till 2009), I realized pitches got harder with the passage of time,” Tendulkar said.
Tendulkar is confident that the Indian bowling attack, spearheaded by Jasprit Bumrah, has the ammunition to put New Zealand in trouble.
“We have a good bowling attack with quality fast bowlers as well as spinners. I believe we have the ammunition to compete in New Zealand.”
However, in Wellington, Tendulkar wants the team to be well-prepared to counter the breeze factor.
“Wellington, I have played and it makes a huge difference if you are bowling with the wind or against the wind. The batsman needs to be judicious in the choice of which end he wants to attack, it is very important,” he said.
Tendulkar said he would prefer spinners to bowl against the breeze.
“…the seamers bowling against the strong breeze need to be smart. So I would prefer that if there is strong breeze, let the spinner bowl from that end and from the opposite end, the fast bowler bowls with the breeze behind him,” he said.
The maestro is confident that Rohit Sharma’s white ball experience will hold him in good stead in the Tests as well, an assignment that has been kept for the last leg of the trip, which begins with five T20 Internationals from January 24.
“The challenge would be to go out and open in different conditions. I think Rohit had opened in New Zealand in ODIs and has been there quite a few times, he knows the conditions well. Eventually, Test cricket is Test cricket,” he said.
“But all depends on surfaces that they provide. If they provide green tops, then it’s a challenge.”
There is no Bhuvneshwar Kumar or Deepak Chahar in limited-overs series but Tendulkar is not ready to press the panic button.
“Injuries are part and parcel of the game when you play and push your body to the limits.
“When you play for your country you need to give your best and while you give your best, you can get injured. That’s okay,” he concluded.