Former New Zealand allrounder Craig McMillan is aware how still India’s tour of New Zealand can get for the Kiwis, and reckons if New Zealand are to be called one of the best sides in the world, they will need to emerge strong against the No. 1-ranked Test side the world.
India will be coming off a 2-1 ODI series win and will be high confidence when they touch down New Zealand second year in a row. The first of the five-match T20I series starts in Auckland on Friday, which will be followed by three ODIs and then two Tests and as per the former Kiwi allrounder, New Zealand will need to win at least two formats to get “passing marks.
“It’s big. This whole Indian tour is big after what happened in Australia,” McMillan told Radio Sports Breakfast. “Five Twenty20s to start and I know it’s not everyone’s favourite format of the game but we’ve got a T20 World Cup later in the year in October in Australia so straight away these five matches become important. Because of the performance in Australia we need to start winning again and get that support back.
“They’re still trying to find in T20 what our best side is. We’ve just seen the Super Smash and there’s an opportunity for some young guys who performed in that to be given a chance. This Indian side are a power house. Doesn’t matter if it’s tests, ODIs, T20s, they are the real deal so it’s going to be a really intriguing tour. For New Zealand to get a pass mark for this tour they need to win two of the three series.”
New Zealand’s confidence would be shaken having taken a 0-3 whitewash at the hands of Australia in Tests. They are currently sixth in the World Test Championships points table with just one win from five matches and despite being ranked above to Australia in the ICC Test teams, McMillan said the gulf between the two teams was very visible.
“What did we learn? We learned we are not as good as we thought we were. We were ranked two in the world, Australia were fifth but there was actually a big gap between both sides,” said McMillan.
“If we want to qualify for the test championship final, which is a long way off as we are sixth on the table, we need to shake off the conservative style we’ve been playing and be more attacking in the way we go about things – also with our selections as well.”
Despite the underwhelming performance against Australia, McMillan pointed out there were certain gains for New Zealand and they should capitalise on it for the India series.
“What was good? Tom Blundell. Got an opportunity, grabbed it with both hands and ran with it. Showed some grit and fight that was lacking from others. And Neil Wagner. What a champion he is. In the face of a fair bit of adversity in that series he was the only New Zealand bowler who stood up and out some fight into the Aussies. He’s finally getting the recognition he deserves now,” the former coach said.
“The other good thing I had on that list was the Kiwi fans who went across the Tasman in their droves and ended up having very little to cheer about and continued to support the team. They were just outstanding.”