Mark Richardson: It's just like playing your boss at golf

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It could very well be the groundsmen who feel the most pressure going into the marquee tour of the summer. India arrived in New Zealand last week, the first time they have been here for a full tour since December 2002.

They had a particularly disappointing time last time, beaten 5-2 in the ODIs and 2-0 in the tests. However, it was the way in which they were beaten that displeased them most.

India were known for struggling on wickets with a little pace and bounce so the directive was to put them on such wickets. That was the intent but the reality was they were asked to play on fiery green demons. They didn't play particularly well, were roundly criticised and left muttering derogatory things about playing in New Zealand.

The make-up of their team has not changed much over six years and again they will bring a batting line-up chock to the gunwales with class.

Once again New Zealand's only chance may lie in playing on surfaces that offer movement for the bowlers.

India has seam bowlers who would also thrive in such bowling conditions but in flat conditions and in a pure bat-off, India surely would take a huge advantage.

But what to do? This is the last time New Zealanders will see the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, and possibly Virender Sehwag playing on our shores and it would be a shame to cheat the New Zealand fans once more of their considerable skill should we try to nullify them in seaming conditions. But we also want to win don't we?

Nothing but the perfect cricket conditions will suffice for this tour. In the ODIs, we want conditions that provide for quality stroke play but ones that don't turn Iain O'Brien and Co into cannon fodder.

In the tests, we need a session or two of movement, followed by a batsman-friendly period and then some turn and variable bounce later on.

The good news is that this can be done with a little work ethic and weather that plays ball as it often does in late summer.

Some experienced Indian players have made recent comments of the challenges that New Zealand conditions hold for them so that may mean we already take an early psychological advantage.

However, what we really need to achieve during this tour is a sense of goodwill towards New Zealand cricket by Indian cricket once the tour is over.

It's very much the scenario of playing your boss at golf. You need to put up a good account for yourself if you want to get the desired invite again. However, if you are going to win you don't want to stuff him out of sight in some sort of perceived underhanded manner.

If you win do so in the manner that allows the boss to retain some sort of dignity and if you lose make sure he felt the engagement worthy of his time. That way you may just get the invite to join the country club.

- Herald on Sunday

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