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Wed Dec 11 2002
Issue No: 136

Ganguly: I want to win a series abroad

Sourav Ganguly isn't worried by the prospectively green seamer that will greet his side when play starts in the first Test against New Zealand in Wellington on Thursday. "I want to win a series abroad, that is the main aim of my captaincy career," he said in his pre-match press-conference. The Indian skipper observed that the nature of the wicket gave both sides the opportunity to take 20 wickets. "The main thing is you have to bowl a good length. Bowlers tend to bowl a bit short seeing the carry. So it is important that you bowl the right length on these wickets and allow the ball to move around, " he said. As for Harbhajan Singh, Ganguly felt that the off-spinner could also be expected to do well, observing, "Even on a greenish pitch in Jamaica he took 10 wickets, and at The Oval where it wasn't turning at all he got five. He bowled well at Nottingham on green pitches so obviously he is a strength to a side. He will be handy on any surface because he gets so much bounce."

First Test pitch likely to favour India

It's not something you can often say about New Zealand pitches, but the potential is there in the first National Bank Series match between the home team and India at the Basin Reserve for someone to make a lot of runs. That someone will probably be in the team batting second, on a pitch which is harder, with better grass cover and a superb outfield than has recently been the case in Wellington. There will be a temptation to bowl first upon winning the toss in order to take advantage of perceived movement that may be available to bowlers. But despite that, this looks a pitch where batsmen will have the ultimate say.

Runs, then, will be more vital to New Zealand. It is unlikely, given the quality of the Indian batting order with Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag, that they will falter twice in the match. From India's point of view, they will have concerns over the greeness of the pitch. But they may find that the extra bounce in it works in their favour, especially if there is little movement through the air.

Given the winds that have blown in Wellington this week, and the lack of heavy rain, the lack of moisture, and heat, in the air is likely to minimise the threat of the sort of swing so superbly used by Simon Doull the last time the two teams met here. The toss, then, will be a factor in the final outcome, but it won't decide it. That is likely to be determined by how many runs the New Zealand batsmen can give their bowlers to play with.

Basin Reserve to host New Zealand's 300th Test

New Zealand's most successful Test venue, Wellington's Basin Reserve, will on Thursday become the ground where its 300th Test match is played. The former ship turning bay was rendered redundant by an earthquake in the 1850s. Prison labour, though, developed it into a sporting ground in the heart of New Zealand's capital city, one which now is only rivalled by Hamilton's Westpac Park amongst the truest cricket grounds in the country. Its record, meanwhile, makes it the fitting venue for the 300th Test involving New Zealand; in 39 Tests that the hosts have played in Wellington, they have won 10. As for the four India-New Zealand Tests that have been played here, India won the first in March 1968. But New Zealand have had more than their own back, winning the next three.

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Subhash Gupte, a man whom Sir Garry Sobers reckoned to be the greatest leg-spinner of all time, was born on this day in 1921. In a 36-Test career, the late Gupte went on to claim 149 wickets, with an innings best of 9-102. He settled down in his later years in Trinidad where he breathed his last on 31 May, 2002.

New Zealand was where India won its first ever away Test series in early 1968. More than 34 years later, Sourav Ganguly is hoping to emulate Tiger Pataudi and win a series in the 'Land of the Long White Cloud'. Will he succeed in his mission? Find out by following's ball-by-ball coverage of the Wellington Test.

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Sourav Ganguly
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Who led India to her first away Test series win?

Previous Question

Who holds the record for the fastest ODI ton by a West Indian?

Answer:Brian Lara

"If Zaheer Khan is fit, I think he will be vitally important because he's the best quickie India have had for some time, perhaps since the days of Kapil Dev,"Farookh Engineer

"The early season wickets will provide enough assistance to look after 20 wickets but the key will be the damage each batting outfit can do between the falls of wickets,"New Zealand's Mark Richardson

"Our bowling might be suspect but with Sachin, Sehwag, Dravid and Ganguly in our line-up, our batting might should help us at least draw the Tests if not win it," Rahul Mehra

Of the 16 Tests that India have played against New Zealand in New Zealand, they have won four and lost five, the remaining seven being drawn.

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