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NZ coach wary of ‘phenomenal’ India

Updated October 13, 2017

WELLINGTON: New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said on Thursday his players need to hit the ground running in India if they want to challenge the world’s top-ranked ODI team on their home turf.

New Zealand, rated fifth in the world, play the first of three ODIs against India in Mumbai on Oct 22. Hesson said the Virat Kohli-led Indians showed their potency in the recent 4-1 ODI series win over Australia.

“Look, their record at home has been phenomenal in the last two or three years,” Hesson told reporters as the squad left New Zealand.

“You know going over there that you have to perform, otherwise you get taught a pretty harsh lesson. It’s important for us to adapt really quickly.”

Hesson travels to India with a core of nine players, including captain Kane Williamson and batting stalwarts Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor.

He will pick a further six players from the New Zealand ‘A’ side currently touring India.

“The beauty of an ‘A’ tour means we’ve already got people in India, adapting to conditions, so when they come in they should be as familiar as they’re going to be,” he said.

Hesson said India presented unique challenges to touring players.

“Obviously there’s the dew factor, the conditions are all very different depending on the grounds you go to,” he said. “We’re going to rely a lot of the experience of our senior players.”

He confirmed one-time opener Tom Latham would be moved down the order and handed wicket-keeping duties as New Zealand look for more firepower at the top.

“It would be fair to say Martin [Guptill] and Tom, although they have had some really good performances individually, haven’t really clicked at the top and certainly haven’t generated a strike-rate as a pair that we’d like.” Power-hitting left-hander Colin Munro is likely to open the innings with Guptill during the India tour.

Munro, 30, is on the ‘A’ tour and has principally batted in the middle order in his previous 24 ODIs for New Zealand.

While he has an average of just 25.26 batting mostly at five or six in the order, his strike rate of 99.37 should make him a valuable partner for the similarly aggressive Guptill in trying to get New Zealand off to a flying start.

Hesson added that specialist top-order batsman George Worker could also be considered for the role, while hard-hitting wicketkeeper-batsman Glenn Phillips was also a possibility.

Phillips, 20, scored 140 not out in the second one-dayer against India ‘A’ in Visakhapatnam two days ago, batting at number three.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2017