For the Black Caps wouldn't be uncalled for. I had the misfortune of catching some of the coverage on the news channels and it would be an understatement to say that it was patronising toward the Black Caps. This is a team that hasn't lost more than a test in a series against India since 1988. Granted the two teams haven't played each other all that often and not in a series with more than 3 tests, but it still says something about the spirit of the Black Caps.
Suhas has been painting it black on his blog and has done a good recap of the last 3 times the Kiwis toured India. A lot of fans have been advocating a multi-tier test league with the Kiwis being relegated to the second tier. The popular opinion is they are no match for the Indian team and the big sides should be allowed to play among themselves because money is the overriding factor in the sport and playing weaker sides affects the bottom line. It's a very convenient "solution" as it assumes the status quo won't change anytime soon.
At a time when other sports are doing their best to make themselves as global as possible, the cricketing elite seem to be leaning the other way. I really don't agree with it and those who know me know this well enough. Inclusiveness is the very essence of sport. For years the West Indies sent their best players to the subcontinent even though the Aussies saved themselves for better conditions. Those Caribbean Gods were the hottest ticket in whatever town they were in and didn't not show up just because a town wasn't fun enough for them.
While the Kiwis have never achieved that sort of acclaim, no side has competed the way New Zealand have despite their limitations. They were the last side to beat the Windies before they embarked on a 15-year run of not losing a test series. They have also won a series in Australia, something none of the subcontinent sides have managed in their history. Since 1995 they have also registered series wins in the West Indies and England, something neither Pakistan nor Sri Lanka have managed during that period.
None of this has a bearing on the series that starts in a little less than 7 hours. But it does point to a side that has the ability to compete and the record to show for it. Undermining them is not the same as calling Bangladesh an ordinary test side, and Virender Sehwag copped a lot more flak for saying something that was proven right in the series - Bangladesh did fail to take 20 wickets in either test that series. The Kiwis might be coming off a whitewash in Bangladesh but let's not forget it was a different format. Let's also not forget that India recently lost both its ODIs to Zimbabwe but it didn't affect their performance in the test series in Sri Lanka.
As an Indian, I am obviously hoping we win all 3 tests. But then I hope for it every series. However, and it seems highly unlikely, it won't be the worst thing if the Kiwis win a test as long as it's not the first test: I'm going for that game and I don't want to see us lose when I'm at the game :)
Media Matters #3: Enter the Excel jockey
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