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Team has the right balance: Kirsten

Last updated on: February 19, 2009 10:20 IST

The Indian team is on a roll, and there is no reason why the ghosts of previous failures in New Zealand should haunt it as it sets out on the tour of the island country.

India last won a Test series in New Zealand in 1967-68, and on its last tour to the country in 2002-03 the team suffered a humiliating 5-2 loss in the one-dayers and was blanked 2-0 in the Tests.

But following a series of consistent performances away, coupled with domination at home, there is reason to believe that it can triumph in the tough conditions this time.

Coach Gary Kirsten stressed that India has the right balance to do well under any conditions.

"We are going there with a mindset that we are going to win. The great thing about this Indian team is that we have a right balance. We feel we can go and play in any conditions, on any surfaces and be a competitive force," he said in Mumbai on Wednesday.

India captain Dhoni said he is not thinking about the results, but is more concerned about getting the basics right.

"Every place has its own challenge. The best is to create environment, execute the plans and give our best during practice without thinking much about the results," he said.

The Indian team's major handicap will be the absence of practice games in New Zealand, but Kirsten believes the experience of senior pros will come handy.

"The preparation will be the key. We have four days before and we expect to put some good, high yards before the first Twenty20 game. Amongst our exciting youngsters, we have some real experienced players who know how to play in any conditions, against any competition. We are not really concerned about the conditions. We will go and assess it and build our preparations accordingly when we get there," he said.

The South African said it is difficult to predict what conditions the team will encounter in New Zealand, but feels they will generally assist the seamers.

"It is going to be important to assess the conditions. I have seen two very different types of conditions in the last two series I watched there. When India visited last there, the wickets were seaming around a lot. But when the West Indies toured New Zealand the wickets looked really good and pretty flat.

"So it is question of finding out what we are going to be confronted with. I know this time of year the weather gets a bit colder, there might be some rain which will assist the seamers in terms of the moisture. The balance of the team is such that regardless of what we will be confronted with we can be competitive," he said.

India will also be keen to beat New Zealand in the one-dayers and climb to the number one spot, but Dhoni sought to downplay that goal.

"As a team we are not thinking of being No 1. It is always about taking the next step because if we can play consistent cricket for a long period of time the rankings will take care of itself," he said.

Kirsten though a word of caution for his team, saying New Zealand can never be taken lightly in their own backyard.

"New Zealand will always be a competitive team. They are fighters, who always give their best and it is worth being wary of them at home. It is important to understand the weather there, which is very different to what it is here. We certainly won't be taking the New Zealanders for granted."

Harish Kotian