India determined to whitewash Kiwis: Kirsten

The Indian team is in a dilemma on whether to field a full-strength team in their bid for a 4-0 sweep or give the reserve players a chance in the final ODI

updated: March 13, 2009 08:28 IST
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The Indian team is in a dilemma on whether to field a full-strength team in their bid for a 4-0 sweep or give the reserve players a chance in the fifth and final cricket one-dayer against New Zealand on Saturday.

India coach Gary Kirsten said there is a temptation to rest key players from the match but the team was also eager to continue with the winning momentum going into the Test series starting April 18.

India has a 3-0 lead in the series, the second match of which was washed out in Wellington.

"We would be tempted to rest some players, but we also want to make sure we keep the momentum going. It is important on a tour to set yourself up to win games of cricket on a consistent level, and momentum is very important on a tour".

"So we haven't made a decision. We have spoken about a little bit," said Kirsten, addressing the media in the absence of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who had set out for deep-sea fishing.

Asked whether Sachin Tendulkar, whose abdomen injury kept him out of the fourth one-dayer in Hamilton, could return to action in tomorrow's match, Kirsten said, "We are not sure yet. We will have to wait and see."

Talking about the team's stupendous run, Kirsten said the "incredibly talented" batting line-up and a fearless approach has made all the difference.

"The game has moved on, especially at a one-day level where you have got three or four guys who can hit the ball out of the ground, particularly on these small grounds. We have self-belief and fearlessness. We have some very good hitters of the ball," he said.

"We also have individuals who play normal cricket and are very important in the partnership. This team can only get better as there are a lot of young players coming up the rung.

So for the next four to five years, we are on a good wicket," said Kirsten, reflecting on India's six series triumphs in a row.

India, apart from taming the Kiwis at home, have won two series against Sri Lanka in Colombo, beaten Australia 2-0 in a Test series at home and trounced England in the following Test and one-day series.

"We have got some very exciting batsmen and we have got bowlers that are experienced in these kinds of conditions.

Zaheer has had a particularly good year and Harbhajan Singh has bowled really well. I think the balance of the one-day team is good at the moment and we are pretty settled. That consistency is very important as well," explained Kirsten.

"The environment that we have created is a nice calm environment. We have got a captain who is very cool who just gets on with it and is a high performer in his own right", Kirsten said.

"We create a very calm environment allowing people to go and express themselves. We have very few sessions where we reflect on a bad performance, but we often reflect on good performances and how we can improve even more," he added.

Kirsten said the team was playing aggressive cricket without going overboard.

"The one thing we do is we want to play aggressive cricket and we want to dominate the opposition. If one or two of our batters fire, we can do that. But it can work the other way too in that you can be put under pressure by playing too aggressively.

"So it's a question of assessing the conditions and playing according to that, playing according to the bowlers you are going to be facing. But we definitely set up stall and our game strategy is to go out and dominate and bat at a good rate. With the ball we try and strike early and if it doesn't work, we move to Plan B," he said.

Kirsten singled out Virender Sehwag for praise, saying the opener's rampaging form was giving the team crucial momentum at the start of the innings.

"Sehwag has had an incredible 14-15 months of cricket for India. He has played exceptionally well. He is enjoying his cricket and he is happy. He understands his role", Kirsten said.

"We have certainly encouraged him to play in as aggressive fashion as possible. He plays like that in Test cricket as well. And it certainly gets the momentum of the innings going. It is great when he fires," he said.

The South African said he has enjoyed his association with the Indian team so far and has never felt like a foreigner.

"I have learnt a lot about how Indians play cricket. I have often said to people that I don't really regard myself as a foreign coach because I haven't integrated new philosophies and new ideas into the Indian way. I have learnt how they play cricket and tried to influence in whatever way I can to try to improve their performance," he said.