Napier: Ahead of their five-match one-day series against the visiting Indian team, New Zealand bowling coach Shane Bond has asked his boys to rise up to the challenge of facing world's number one ODI team and put them under pressure by winning the first game here on Sunday.
"I think everyone is really excited about this tour by the Indian team. They are a fantastic unit and we are playing at home, in conditions that aren't really familiar to them. They have some ferocious batsmen so do we and both sides have good bowlers," said the former Black Caps' fast bowler.
"It will be an interesting contest and I am hoping for a fantastic ODI series followed up by an equally intriguing Test series," he added.
New Zealand chief coach Mike Hesson had laid down the challenge to MS Dhoni's team whilst asking for bowler-friendly pitches for the upcoming tour, both in ODIs and Tests.
"I am always in favour of bowler-friendly pitches being a fast bowler myself," said Bond jokingly.
"Seriously though, the pitches for ODIs will be more batsmen friendly, firm and hard, with a lot of bounce. Some of them will be drop-in pitches like the one here in Napier, so there will not be much in them for the bowlers. The grounds in New Zealand are small as well, so the batsmen can make merry especially in limited-overs cricket.
"That's why it is very important that we win the 1st game and start this 2nd half of summer well. India have only just arrived here and while they have been doing the net sessions, they haven't played a game before the first ODI. So it might take them a game or two to settle down and get warmed up.
"There are two ODIs in Hamilton and the conditions should suit them more. And they showed in South Africa that they learn very quickly, so we need to take advantage of this situation on Sunday and put them under pressure from the word go," Bond added.
Asked about the hosts' desire to win, Bond said: "Look, we are placed at number eight and they are at number one. They deserve it for the cricket they have played over the past year, but I think the gap on the field shouldn't really be that big in these conditions."
"In 2013, there were only one or two cases of away wins by touring sides, and that is how it should be. Playing away from home is a challenge and it should prove difficult to win," Bond said.
Whilst comparing both line-ups, Bond was of the opinion that the two sides are pretty equal.
"The Indian bowling is very good. They are young and willing to learn. They will not have a great time of it in Auckland or Wellington, where the winds can pick, especially in the latter city," Bond said.
"Otherwise they should be able to get to grips with the conditions pretty quickly. They will like bowling here. Who knows, maybe we will have some helpful pitches in the two Tests and they will like that as well," he said.
In terms of batting, Bond pointed out that both teams were replete with explosive batsmen and they were likely to take advantage of shorter-than-usual boundaries.
'Virat Kohli' is the one name that sprung to his mind when talking of the most dangerous batsman in the visiting India squad.
However, Bond said the one bowler New Zealand will want to unleash on Kohli and the rest of the Indian batting line-up was Adam Milne, the 21-year-old fast-bowling sensation who clocked up 153 km/h against the West Indies in a T20 game at Auckland recently. He has been named in the 13-man squad for the ODI series versus India.
"He reminds me of myself, and he has said that he grew up watching me play," said Bond, who himself hit the 156.4 km/h mark at the 2003 ODI World Cup in South Africa.
"It is kind of scary but also exciting at the same time. At 21, he is certainly better than I was at that age, in terms of his fitness as well as from a technical point of view. That is surely something to look forward to," Bond said.
"There are not many bowlers, in international cricket at the moment, who bowl really quick. For him to come up on raw pace is pretty great. I am hoping he has a good outing in this ODI series and we can pick him for the Tests as well, because I think he is ready for it," he signed off.