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Saturday, February 21, 2009

India have best balanced Test batting line-up: Gavaskar

Describing the Indian Test batting line-up as the best balanced in the world, cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar on Saturday said he was very confident of the team doing well in New Zealand.

"The balance of our Test batting line-up is very good. It's the best balanced batting line-up in the whole world. The team is also very flexible and adaptable and I'm confident they would do well in New Zealand," Gavaskar said.

The former India captain was speaking to reporters after Rahul Dravid, who is part of the Test team to play the series in New Zealand, released his biography SMG, penned by Devendra Prabhudesai and published by Rupa and Co., at the Cricket Club of India here.

Gavaskar said the fact that the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side would have played two Twenty20 Internationals and five-match ODI series before plunging into the more difficult Test rubber would also be a big advantage.

"They are playing Tests after the one-dayers and this would give them the chance to get used to the weather conditions. The ball will not move that much in one-dayers and the bowlers for New Zealand would also be the same. They will be better prepared for Tests," he said.

India are seeking to defeat New Zealand in a Test rubber in the latter's backyard after 41 years.

The former India Test opener also said that it was a very big plus point to have an opening combination like the team had currently in Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.

"A hundred opening stand or even a stand of 50 or 60 runs is a good and important foundation. We have in Sehwag and Gambhir a very good opening combination. Then we have Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, (VVS) Laxman, Yuvraj (Singh) and
(MS) Dhoni to follow," he said.

Gavaskar, however, said that it would be a huge challenge for Dhoni and company because of the different weather conditions in New Zealand.

"It's certainly a huge challenge for the team because the conditions are unfamiliar," said the former cricketer who was the first batsman to climb Test cricket's one-time Mount Everest -- of scoring 10,000 runs.

Gavaskar felt the current cricketers had the big advantage of utilising the internet and computers to study the rival players, however unfamiliar they were, which was not there in his time.

"The New Zealand team has quite a lot of new players. Apart from (captain) Daniel Vettori not much is known about others. But currently the internet and computer are there for the players to study the rivals unlike our times," he said.

Gavaskar, considered one of the most meticulously prepared cricketers in his heydays, also revealed how he used to study the bowlers closely in county cricket, when he was playing in the championship in England, if the England team was set to visit India the next winter.

"I used to watch the bowlers in the county circuit very closely when I knew England were to come to India in winter. I used to watch a lot of cricket video footages. I also read a lot of cricket books, mainly biographies, to know what went
into making the players they were," he said.

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