Bharat Arun: 'We have the team to beat New Zealand'

India’s bowling coach, Bharat Arun, is aware of dynamics of the windy Wellington and the Basin Reserve. India plays the first Test against New Zealand from Friday.

Bharat Arun in Wellington on Tuesday.   -  S. Dinakar

The big white sheets covered the pitch and the square, soaking up the water. It rained here on Tuesday forcing the Indians to cancel their practice session.

Indeed, the picturesque Basin Reserve ground, the soul of New Zealand cricket, wore a forlorn look with just two more days to go before the first Test gets underway here on Friday.

Although the surface for the game was not in view, locals said there was a fair amount of grass under the covers. The conditions should favour the seamers here.

Showers forecast

While showers have been forecast till the first two days of the Test, the weather should be fine for the last three.

The pitch could also be seamer friendly in the first two to three days and then flatten out.

The Indians discovered this the hard way on their last Test tour here when Brendon McCullum’s history-making triple hundred, backed up by centuries from B-J. Watling and Jimmy Neesham enabled New Zealand script a great escape.

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With the Indians calling off their training session, the team’s bowling coach Bharat Arun was able to eke out time for shopping at the busy Lambton Quay in Wellington’s CBD.

Arun was confident about India’s chances against New Zealand. He told Sportstar, “New Zealand is a combative side but we have the team to beat it in its backyard.”

Not too concerned

Arun was not overly concerned about India’s ODI setback. He said, “We were without six of our World Cup players. Sometimes, it is not all about winning.”

Arun added, “It’s about trying out cricketers in different positions and we might lose some matches in the bargain.”

He observed, “Look we found an ideal No. 4 for the shorter versions in Shreyas Iyer. And K.L. Rahul offers us a lot as a versatile batsman at No. 5 who can also ’keep competently.”

Switching his attention back to Tests, Arun was aware of the dynamics of the windy Wellington and the Basin Reserve.

Bowling against the wind

Here, bowling against the strong winds is a huge ask from a seamer. Arun said, “Not one, but each of our pacemen could take turns bowling against the wind. We could also ask the spinner to bowl against the wind and rotate the pacemen from the other end.”

India will play only one spinner, and, at this stage, it appears R. Ashwin may be that man since he gets the ball to dip or drift while bowling against the wind. He offers more in the air than Ravindra Jadeja who is better on tracks where the ball grips.

It’s also likely that Rishabh Pant will get the nod ahead of Wriddhiman Saha. While Saha is a more accomplished stumper, Pant can keep smartly standing back on these pitches and also attack the Kiwi seamers to swing games.

The talented Prithvi Shaw should open with Mayank Agarwal, who has a fine temperament. The sublime Shubhman Gill may have to wait longer for his chance.

Ishant brings experience

Ishant Sharma, set to join the team on Tuesday night, adds much to the Indian pace pack with his experience and skill.

“Yes, Ishant will join us. In the conditions here, the pacemen can bowl a bit up, than they did in Australia,” said Arun.

Ishant could combine with Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami with the in-form Umesh Yadav missing a place by a short-head. The competition among the Indian pacemen is intense and that’s not good news for the Kiwis.

Trent Boult will be back in action for New Zealand, combining with Tim Southee. And in picking the lanky Kyle Jamieson, someone who bowls with pace and can extract lift around off-stump, the Kiwi think-tank is zeroing in on an old Indian failing.

The battle lines have been drawn even if the weather is murky here.

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