Sachin Tendulkar: Pitches in New Zealand have changed over the years

The pitches have got harder and become more batting friendly, the Indian legend points out.

Sachin Tendulkar plays a cut during the first Test against New Zealand at Seddon Park, Hamilton, in March, 2009. Tendulkar says the pitch at Seddon Park remained soft, unlike the others.   -  Getty Images

Cricket pitches in New Zealand have become a lot more batting-friendly over the years, says iconic former batsman Sachin Tendulkar.

Tendulkar believes India has the “ammunition” to trouble the sprightly host during the upcoming tour which begins with the first T20I on January 24. India will play five T20Is, three ODIs and two Tests during the tour.

Tendulkar had a record five New Zealand tours since 1990. From seaming tracks during his early trips, the tracks transformed to become high-scoring, hard ones during his last tour in 2009. “Of late, the Tests in New Zealand have been high scoring and surfaces have changed,” Tendulkar told PTI.

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From 2002, when India played ODIs and Tests on green tops, to 2009, when India won only its 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 — Wellington and Napier — got harder but not Hamilton. It remained soft. But Napier became hard with passage of time (where Gautam Gambhir scored an epic match-saving 12-hour hundred in 2009). So, from my first tour (1992), I realised pitches got harder with 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,” he said.

The breeze factor

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.

Tendulkar is confident 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. “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 will be neither Bhuvneshwar Kumar nor Deepak Chahar in limited-overs series, but Tendulkar isn’t yet 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.

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