Betting legend Sachin Tendulkar was skeptical about New Zealand’s chances against India in the ICC World Twenty20 opener at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium in Nagpur tomorrow.
The former India captain, in an exclusive interview to India Today, said New Zealand are lacking the X factor in the absence of their aggressive leader Brendon McCullum. (Virat Kohli has a method to his madness: Sourav Ganguly)
“New Zealand are a very good side but without Brendon McCullum’s leadership and his batting skills they are not the same aggressive side. It’s somewhere going to hurt them. In a critical game it might hurt them” Tendulkar said.
Under McCullum, New Zealand were known for their aggressive cricket. The Black Caps lit up the 2015 World Cup campaign with never-seen-before tactics on the field. McCullum led New Zealand to their first ever World Cup final. McCullum retired last month after the two-match Test series against Australia at home passing the baton to star batsman Kane Williamson. (Virat Kohli prepared to deal with home pressure at ICC World Twenty20)
Tendulkar said New Zealand’s brand of cricket will change under their new leader.
“The brand of cricket will also change under Kane Williamson. (Also read: In-form India poised to break T20I jinx against New Zealand in tournament opener)
“Kane Williamson is a brilliant player, I enjoy watching him bat but I haven’t seen Williamson lead the side. McCullum was attacking, even it Twenty20 format he had catching fielders,” Tendulkar said.
While praising New Zealand squad’s balance, Tendulkar said India were the best balanced side in the world. (World T20: David Warner wary of aggressive Virat Kohli)
“India look really well balanced. In fact they are currently the best balanced side in the world. The beauty of India is they have got both batting all-rounders and bowling all-rounders. Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadejaand Ravichandran Ashwin can get some runs also,” Tendulkar said.
The Master Blaster said he would not be hesitant to tinker with the well-settled Indian line-up if the situation demands. He said he would bring in veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh if the opposition is not comfortable against spin.
“The basic playing XI we had was balanced. But if the opposition is not comfortable against spin, I wouldn’t hesitate adding Harbhajan Singh in the team and give them more overs spin bowling,” he said.
Tendulkar also played down New Zealand leg-spinner Ish Sodhi’s threat saying he doesn’t expect big turn from the bowler.
“The wickets are going to turn little bit, I don’t expect big turn. Leg spinners can be handy if they are used properly. However most leg-spinners these days, even to right handers, are bowling flat. Ish Sodhi, from whatever I have seen, bowls flat with not much air. I would like him to bowl slower though,” Tendulkar said.