India will be better prepared to tackle conditions in New Zealand than they were on their losing tour seven years ago, former India coach John Wright said yesterday.
On their last tour of New Zealand in 2002, India lost both Tests inside three days on seaming wickets prepared to suit the home team bowlers, before losing the one-day series 5-2.
India will tour New Zealand from tomorrow for two Twenty20 internationals, five one-day matches and three Tests.
New Zealander Wright, who was India’s coach on that disastrous tour, said the Indians had improved vastly and were capable of turning the tables this time.
“The advantage India have this time is that, whatever conditions are rolled out by the hosts, they have the attack to make the most of them,” the former Test star told the www.cricketnirvana.com Web site.
“They have a lot of firepower to call on and I’d imagine New Zealand will want to do just the opposite this time and ensure the pitches are pretty flat,” Wright said.
“India will possibly want to settle a few old scores after what happened in 2002-03,” the 54-year-old said.
Wright, who coached India from 2000-2005, said pace spearheads Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan were a serious threat to batsmen the world over.
“India must be very excited about his [Sharma’s] potential,” he said. “We’ve only really seen him bowling in subcontinental or Australian conditions, where it’s pretty hard work for the pacemen.”
“You’d expect once he gets to a place like New Zealand or England, where the conditions favor the seamers more, he’ll be at least as influential again. You can’t overplay his importance right now,” Wright said.
The former New Zealand opening batsman said what set apart the current Indian side from its predecessors was the vastly improved bowling attack.
“That’s probably the biggest difference between the India side of today, and the combinations of previous years: the bowling,” he said.
“It now has everything — pace, swing, left-arm variation, wrist-spin and finger-spin. When I was there things were just starting to turn but now you really see the difference,” Wright said.
“It used to be that the most successful Indian sides were renowned for their batting. These days the batting’s still strong but India have made huge gains in terms of the bowling,” he said.
“They’ve probably got the best attack in world cricket at the moment, when you think about it,” Wright said.
“And the good news is that the gain hasn’t come at the expense of the batting,” he said.
“Any side with Venkatsai Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Gautam Gambhir and Mahendra Singh Dhoni is going to run up some totals,” Wright said.