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By the way, we have a Test series to save

As India gets caught up in the tamasha called IPL, MS Dhoni — who is now India’s most unsuccessful captain overseas — and his men will take on the Kiwis in Wellington tomorrow, two and a half years after India’s last Test win abroad

February 8: The International Cricket Council (ICC) approves radical reform plans which will hand India, Australia and England unprecedented say in the way the game is run globally. And, to make things sweeter for the Indian Board, the road has been cleared for its chief N Srinivasan to take over as the ICC chairman later this year.

February 10: Gurunath Meiyappan, the son-in-law N Srinivasan, and former team principal of Chennai Super Kings has been found to have indulged in betting and passing on information during the sixth edition of IPL in 2013 by the Justice Mudgal Committee.

February 12: The eight IPL teams splurge a whopping Rs 212.35 crore on the first day of the auction in Bangalore.
The developments summarised above are good indicators to where Indian cricket’s priorities lie these days. So, in the midst of the din surrounding these headline-grabbing events, it would be easy to forget that Mahendra Singh Dhoni & Co are battling to save their bruised reputation in far away NZ. After all, you very rarely see the world’s most popular team get walloped in 10 out of 11 successive Test matches played abroad. But that’s precisely what Dhoni’s men have endured over the last two-and-a-half years, with defeats in England, Australia, South Africa and now in New Zealand.
The Test match that India won against the West Indies in Kingston (Jamaica) in June 2011 is distant memory, such has been the nature of hammering that the ODI world champions have been subjected to.

Money matters...
Of the Rs 212.35 crore spent in the auction in Bangalore yesterday, Rs 25.4 crore was cornered by seven members of the current Indian squad, while eight players including Virat Kohli, Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja were retained by their respective franchises for undisclosed fees well in advance.

Currently, paceman Ishwar Pandey is the only Indian player without an IPL team, as auction for uncapped players is scheduled for today.

Yuvraj Singh, who was sold for 14 crore to Royal Challengers Bangalore at yesterday’s auction is not in the Test squad. Ditto Gautam Gambhir, who fetched a record 11 crore in the 2011 auction.

Dinesh Karthik who cannot get near the Test side as a wicketkeeper because of Dhoni’s presence, went for Rs 12.5 crore yesterday.

Meanwhile, the environment in which news-cycles operate these days would ensure that the players auction will become history by the time India line up to take on the Kiwis in the second Test on a pacer-friendly pitch in Wellington tomorrow morning, and all that Dhoni’s side will have to rely on is their skills: for, no amount of money that the franchises splurged on them yesterday will be sufficient to tackle the pace of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner in a game that the hosts are desperate to win.

Testing pitch
The curator of the Basin Reserve, Brett Sipthorpe told stuff.co.nz: “I don’t expect they (India) will be too happy when they see that (the pitch). It’s had good pace and bounce in it this summer. That had a little bit of nip around, which suits the seamers.”

Now, it’s left to Dhoni’s men to show what they are truly worth!

3
The number of times MS Dhoni has lead India to an away series win – in New Zealand 2009, Bangladesh 2010 and West Indies 2011

Googly
Despite India not winning an away Test for nearly three years, they are No 2 in the ICC Test rankings

June ’11 
The month in which India clinched their last Test match win abroad — in Kingston

Away record v each country:
Vs England: 4 Tests, lost 4
Vs Australia: 4 Tests, lost 4
Vs SA: 2 Tests, lost 1, drawn 1,
Vs NZ: 1 Test, lost 1 (series to be concluded)

350-plus scores:
400 vs Aus at Sydney in 2012
421 vs SA at J’burg in 2013
366 v NZ at Auckland in 2014

Claiming all 20 wickets:
Vs Australia at Melbourne 2011
Vs NZ at Auckland in 2014

Highest individual score:
Cheteshwar Pujara - 153 v SA at Johannesburg in 2013

Most runs:
Rahul Dravid - 655 runs @ 46.78 in 8 Tests

Highest average:
Cheteshwar Pujara - 50.66 for 304 runs in 3 Tests

Most wickets:
Ishant Sharma - 30 wickets @ 52.20 in 11 Tests

Best bowling average:
Praveen Kumar - 29.53 while taking 15 wickets in 3 Tests

Dhoni’s record:
458 runs with 77 as highest
@ 25.44 in 10 Tests

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