India will be too strong for New Zealand: Brett Lee (IANS interview)

New Delhi, Sep 20 (IANS) Former Australia pace spearhead Brett Lee feels India will be too strong a challenge for New Zealand when the two sides lock horns in the upcoming three-match Test cricket rubber, starting with the first match on September 22 in Kanpur.

Hailing India’s Test side as “well-balanced”, the 39-year-old said India seriously looks to be the superior side on paper with a strong batting line-up.

“I think India will be too strong for New Zealand. India has got a lot of options in the batting order. It’s a power-packed one, you got Shikhar (Dhawan) putting his hand up after losing his opportunity,” Lee told IANS on the sidelines of a panel discussion on the India-New Zealand series also featuring former India greats Kapil Dev and V.V.S. Laxman.

“They got a serious bowling line-up as well. I think they are a well-balanced side.”

The cricketer-turned-commentator also congratulated India, who will feature in their 500th Test, when the Virat Kohli-led side takes on the Kiwis in the first match at the Green Park stadium.

“It’s a great honour for India to play 500 Test matches. It’s going to be terrific series featuring three Test matches against New Zealand. I feel it’s really going to be an exciting one,” he said.

After the series against New Zealand, India have a long Test season at home with England playing five Tests at the end of the year besides a solitary match against Bangladesh followed by another four against Australia in the new year.

As part of its preparations for the Ashes series and the tour to the subcontinent, Cricket Australia (CA) recently appointed Englishman Graeme Hick as the national team’s specialist batting coach which Lee feels may potentially work out in their favour while facing India.

“Yes it could work. Potentially it may help Australia — I just think it all comes down to the individual player. It is obviously great to have mentors, coaches and support staff but at the end of the day they are going to play on the cricket field.”

Lee also had a piece of advice for the young Australian side led by Steve Smith, when they travel to the country, where the Kangaroos were thrashed 0-4 in the 2013 February-March Test series.

“One thing where Australian cricketers have improved is working on the ball and understanding the science behind the reverse swing. We all know there is a right or wrong way to do it and Australian cricketers now know that reverse swing in India is the key,” he said.

Lee, who has played for various T20 leagues across the world, including the Indian Premier League (IPL), credited the cash-rich IPL for helping Australian cricketers better understand subcontinental conditions.

“Playing in the IPL definitely helped the Australians get accustomed to the Indian conditions when they play for the national side. It’s because they still play in the low and slow wickets during the IPL,” Lee, who took 310 wickets in 76 Tests, said.

“It’s one of those things that the more you play cricket here the better you become. If they wouldn’t have played here over the years it’s definitely going to affect their results.”

(Tridib Baparnash can be contacted at tridib.b@ians.in)

–IANS

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