Dravid has a long workout

New Zealand hope to build on their first-Test batting success

Slightly wet underfoot conditions ruled out any fielding practice and dampish practice pitches, especially during New Zealand’s training session in the morning, necessitated caution and care, but the teams were thankful for getting out of their hotel rooms and getting some hits under their belt.

Two men busiest at work, at different times of the day, were James Franklin and Rahul Dravid. Flown in as replacement for the injured Hamish Bennett, all-rounder Franklin had a long stint with bat and ball, while Dravid worked overtime, as is wont, first on his own and then with Gary Kirsten.

The India coach used a tennis racquet to fire down balls at Dravid from a height and at not inconsiderable pace, requiring the Bangalorean to be on his toes – literally – for the most part. Dravid was in his elements, either swaying out of the way with an economy of head movement or getting right behind the line to meet the ball with the straightest of bats.

The virtues of a straight bat, and the dividends it can yield, aren’t lost on Kiwi opener Tim McIntosh. The left-hander had a miserable time in Ahmedabad, cleaned up for nought twice by Zaheer Khan, and his place is under a cloud for the second Test.

“There will be a selection meeting around it but he knows where he went wrong,” said Ross Taylor, the Kiwi representative at the press conference. “Obviously, it’s not easy getting a pair on what was quite a flat wicket. But he has done well for us in the past. He has often got a low score and then come back and got a big score. If he does play, hopefully he can show the form he has shown in the past.”

New Zealand have struggled for good opening partnerships for a long time now. “The new ball swings around for the first 5-10 overs. It’s unfortunate, but you do lose wickets.

It has been a part of our Test make-up over the last few years, where our openers have struggled,” Taylor agreed. “Saying that, Brendon (McCullum) got off to a good start in an unfamiliar role to him. Hopefully, we can get off to a good start and the batters down at five, six and seven don’t get to bat for a long time.”

New Zealand have derived a lot of confidence from the Ahmedabad draw, Taylor noted. “We are happy with how we played, but that is in the past. We can take a lot of confidence from the way we batted and bowled,” the shadow captain pointed out.

“We are expecting different pitch conditions here, it will probably have a little more bounce and turn a bit more. Hopefully, we can trust our processes and transfer that into the match. The nets were slightly damp and we are a little underdone but hopefully, we can have a full training session tomorrow.”

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