Corey expects keen contest between Kohli, Williamson in NZ

“I have played with Virat Kohli at RCB and I have been fortunate to play with Kane Williamson( NZ skipper) for a long time. I know how they do things differently," says Corey Anderson.

New Zealand's Mitchell Santner and Corey Anderson with former coach Mike Hesson in Mumbai for a promotional campaign on Monday.   -  Vivek Bendre

 

India may be focussed on the tour of Australia, but the Kiwis have already begun preparations to tackle Kohli’s men.

Soon after finishing its campaign in Australia, India will travel to New Zealand for a limited-over series in January. The Indian team will play five ODIs, starting from January 23 and three T20s.

While New Zealand’s big-hitting batsman, Corey Anderson, believes that the Virat Kohli-led side will come with ‘all bases covered’, bowling all-rounder, Mitchell Santner, feels that it will be an ‘exciting series’.

“It is going to be an interesting series and there will be a lot of white ball cricket. In the past, when India have come to New Zealand, they haven’t done so well. They are well-balanced squad now, but they have to adapt to the conditions,” Santner says, while interacting at the Star Sports studios, here on Monday. “If the ball swings, things will be in New Zealand’s favour.”

“You grow up, you adapt to your game and the tactics you are more familiar with. That’s why the home sides do particularly well in any part of the world." — Mike Hesson on home advantage

 

Anderson believes it will be a keen contest between the two captains —Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson. Having played under the leadership of Kohli for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, Anderson knows that both have a similar ‘drive and the desire’ for success on the field. “I have played with Virat at RCB and I have been fortunate to play with Kane for a long time, so I have kind of seen them both. I know how they do things differently. They are same sort of person. They have that drive and the desire,” Anderson says.

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Mike Hesson, who was New Zealand’s coach till May this year, believes that most countries are used to their own conditions. “You grow up, you adapt to your game and the tactics you are more familiar with. That’s why the home sides do particularly well in any part of the world. New Zealand is quite unique in that way.

“At the moment, it does not swing that much, and the wicket turns flat. The grounds are small, so the bowlers find life a bit challenging,” Hesson says.

Hesson, who recently joined the Kings XI Punjab as the coach, feels that it is the clarity of thought and consistency in approach that has helped New Zealand perform well.

Preparations for World Cup

Under the new coach, Gary Stead, the team has started its preparation not only for India series, but also for next year’s World Cup.

Brendon McCullum retired in 2016, but New Zealand still has a bulk of the members from its 2015 squad playing cricket at top level. “Kane has been captaining for a while and is a quality player. Obviously, he is a wonderful person and Gary Stead is new to the environment… Everyone is a senior member, it is about backing each other,” Anderson says.

The conditions in England are quite similar to that of New Zealand and that, Hesson indicates, will help the team. But he believes New Zealand needs to work on its bowling in the middle overs. “From bowling point of view, you need to take wickets in the middle (overs). That’s important. (The wickets in) New Zealand is similar to England and its flat in the middle, you need to have wicket-takers in those middle overs. New Zealand can certainly have new ball bowlers who can swing it and can take wickets upfront. The challenge is now in the middle overs, when the wicket is flat and is not doing anything,” he says.

That’s where Santner, Todd Astle and Ish Sodhi would come into play. “India has Chahal and Kuldeep in the middle overs. Whoever does well, will do well in the tournament,” Hesson states.

Leading up to the World Cup, it is important for players to ensure that there’s no burnout. That’s why, New Zealand is better placed as it has played lesser amount of international cricket as of now as compared to others. And Santner agrees that it is a boost. “It’s a pretty good thing. The amount of cricket teams are playing, be it international or domestic, there is a possibility of getting tired and fatigued. A break is necessary to evolve.”

“But by the time World Cup comes along, we would have played a lot of cricket — there will be a lot of white ball opportunities,” Santner says.

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