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Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan’s performance in ODIs crucial on New Zealand tour: Sunil Gavaskar

Sunil Gavaskar © Getty Images
Sunil Gavaskar said playing ODIs before the Test series will help India prepare well © Getty Images

Jan 16, 2014

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar feels the tour of New Zealand will be a test for the opening batsmen in One-Day Internationals (ODIs), Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. India take on New Zealand in the first of the five-match series on January 19.

Gavaskar was quoted as saying by the official website of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), “As it generally does, it will help the Indian batsmen that they begin the tour with the ODIs. You can start off playing freely without worrying about your wicket too much, as you have to in Tests. If you play your shots and get some good runs, the confidence level rises in Tests.”

“While it is a big plus for the batsmen, it may well be different for the bowlers because we have seen of late the bowlers have taken a pounding in the limited overs cricket, in all parts of the world,” he added.

“The two Indian batsmen who didn’t have a very good tour to South Africa are Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma. As opening batsmen their performance will be crucial in the ODIs. What they need to keep in mind is that they must wait for the ball to come to them. It will not come as quickly on to the bat as it did in South Africa, so they will have to play the ball as late as possible,” Gavaskar added.

Gavaskar said the tour of South Africa was a ‘huge learning curve’ for young Indian cricketers and it would have given them enough confidence to play in overseas conditions.

Gavaskar said India might have won the Test and ODI series in New Zealand on their last tour in 2008-09, but it doesn’t carry much significance now as the team has changed totally.

Ishwar Pandey is the new face in the Indian squad and Gavaskar feels that his presence boosts the tourists ahead of the important tour.

Gavaskar said, “A new face has been included in India’s pace attack for this tour in Ishwar Pandey. The tall and well-built lad has earned his place in the squad with some impressive domestic performances in the last couple of years. The confidence of the wickets he has been picking in domestic competitions should be maintained by playing him straight away. But the team management might look for experienced bowlers in the first couple of game and give Ishwar a chance later in the series.”

Talking about the all-rounders, Gavaskar said Stuart Binny and Ravindra Jadeja give tough competition to Ravichandran Ashwin.

“Another newcomer is Stuart Binny. He is the kind of finisher that India need at No. 6 or 7 and he stands a very good chance of making the playing XI. R Ashwin is India’s No. 1 spinner but whether India will go with him or Ravindra Jadeja will depend on the conditions. The composition of the New Zealand team will also be a factor. If they play a lot of left-handers, Ashwin will be preferred,” he said.

Gavaskar added that the New Zealand think-tank would be wary of the fact that preparing seam-friendly wickets could be a move that can backfire as India boasts a quality seam attack.

Gavaskar concluded by saying, “This ODI series holds another significant importance for Team India. The fact that India are touring both host countries of 2015 World Cup — New Zealand and Australia — this year, is the best thing that could’ve happened to them. Since the young team will be able to experience the conditions of both countries, they won’t feel completely out of their comfort zone when they return there to defend the World Cup.”

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