India’s Test specialist Ajinkya Rahane feels countering the breeze in New Zealand will be an important criteria if India are to win their maiden Test series in the country in over a decade. The last time India played a Test series in New Zealand was during early 2014 but Brendon McCullum’s team beat the visitors 1-0. Also Read - Rajasthan Royals vs Delhi Capitals IPL 2021 Latest Match Preview: Predicted Playing 11, Mumbai Weather, Wankhede Pitch
Six years later, India will head to New Zealand as the No.1-ranked Test team in the world and Rahane, who scored a century in the second Test last time around, hopes to do well. Also Read - Sanjay Manjrekar on Ajinkya Rahane Ahead of CSK vs DC IPL 2021 Clash: Not a Supporter of Him in T20s
“We played there in 2014… there is a breeze factor that is involved. I guess getting used to conditions will be the key as there will be more sideways movement because of breeze,” Rahane told PTI. “In the last tour, I played in Wellington but Christchurch, we will be playing a Test match after long time. Getting used to conditions will be key.” Also Read - Chhattisgarh Naxal Attack: Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane Pay Heartfelt Tribute to Martyrs
Neil Wagner has been in fine form for New Zealand with 27 wickets from his last four Tests, and in the presence of Tim Southee and Trent Boult, Rahane feels, tackling the Kiwis’ fast bowling attack, will be crucial for India’s batsmen.
“Wagner did well in the recent series (27 wickets from last 4 Tests). You can’t take just one name. As a batting unit, you’ve got to respect every bowler. As a home team, they have an advantage knowing conditions well but at the same time, we need to play our natural game also,” Rahane said.
“There are different ways to counter different kind of bowling. Everyone has a different method. Few players love standing outside the crease (to negate the swing) and some stand deep inside the crease. Some take middle-stump guard, few take leg-stump guard. Individual players should stick to their own strengths.
“You have to focus on the basics as you can’t think too much about your technique. It’s about keeping your game simple, playing close to the body, as late as possible and according to the situation. Pace and bounce will be different.”
The tour of New Zealand is where Rahane believes India began their transformation towards becoming the top Test team. From there, India toured England and Australia the same year and although they did not win a series in either countries, Rahane feels it laid the groundwork to what was to follow in the coming years.
“That time, it was a young unit touring New Zealand for the first time. We learnt a lot from that series and from there, our journey started to become the No.1 team in the world. At that time, we were probably No 6 or 7 in the Test rankings. From there, we decided that as a team, we’ve to work really hard on our fitness because in any case we worked hard on skills. Now the result is there to see. From then to now, it has been a great journey,” Rahane added.
“It started from the England series in 2014. We lost the Test series and then we went to Australia. But it started after the England series. We all sat together and decided and what is there to be done as a team. What can we do to take Indian cricket forward and set a benchmark for future generations.”