The Indian team, which reached the city late in the afternoon from Bengaluru, stayed back at the team hotel, while head coach Rahul Dravid and his assistants - Paras Mhambrey and Vikram Rathour - came straight to the Wankhede Stadium to inspect the pitch ahead of the World Cup semifinal fixture against New Zealand.
Dravid had a closer look at the surface, which is expected to be batting-friendly - as has been the trend in this venue so far - before all three of them had a lengthy discussion with seasoned curator Taposh Chatterjee.
Of the four games in this venue so far, three have seen 350-plus runs being scored by teams batting first, and even the last game - between Australia and Afghanistan - had a 290-plus total, which was chased down by the Aussies, relying on Glenn Maxwell’s unbeaten 201. And when India and New Zealand get into business on Wednesday, another high-scoring game looms large.
However, the New Zealand camp isn’t dwelling on the past. The team trained under lights for about three hours, and addressing the media, Lockie Ferguson admitted that the team would aim to adapt to the conditions ‘as quickly as possible’.
“I feel like a lot of Indian grounds have been high-scoring. But that’s just the nature of one-day cricket in this part of the world. But from our point of view, it’s about trying to understand what the pitch will be like and trying to read what a good score on it is because, of course, those big overs, 10 runs here, 10 runs there can cost you at the back end of the innings,” Ferguson said.
After a good start to the tournament, New Zealand suffered four straight defeats - before eventually beating Sri Lanka and making it to the semifinals. In the nets, Kane Williamson batted for a while, while the fast bowlers, too, had a go.
Having seen the highs and lows, Ferguson admitted that it was all about banking on the experience and playing to the situation.“From a bowling point of view, we are trying to shut down those big overs, and try to understand what we think is a good total on the score. So, it’s an experience thing, it’s an assessment thing. The pitch will be different again, that’s the joy of cricket I think, we play on a different pitch each time, so it’s hard to read two days out. But from our point of view, yeah, we’ve got to adapt as quickly as possible come Wednesday,” he said.
The last time the two teams met in a World Cup semifinal, New Zealand had the last laugh. But this time around, playing in front of an Indian crowd, things won’t be easy, but by Ferguson’s admission, ‘both teams are raring to go…’.
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