As the Indian team takes the field in the first of the two-match Test series against New Zealand at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal, Hyderabad today, they will be without the stalwarts Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman — two names who have been a part of the Indian line-up for more than a decade.
While most of the talk revolved around the legendary cricketers on the eve of the Test, former India stumper Farokh Engineer doesn’t believe the team will miss Dravid and Laxman too much against New Zealand.
“I don’t think we will miss them much in this series. Of course, they are legendary cricketers and it will be difficult to replace them, but India is a far better team when playing at home.
I feel, we are better than Australia and England at home. We have youngsters who can play well in home conditions, but we will miss them (Dravid and Laxman) very much when India plays abroad,” said UK-based Engineer, who is in Mumbai for a brief holiday.
Dravid, who amassed 13,288 runs in 164 Tests, quit in March while prolific batsman Laxman (8,781 runs in 134 Tests) surprised everyone last week by announcing retirement with immediate effect despite being selected for the New Zealand series, thus leaving a huge void in the middle order.
It is not just in the batting line-up where they will be missed.
India will also feel their absence in the slips. Dravid has taken a record 210 Test catches and Laxman has 135 to his cr
Engineer urged youngsters in the team to step up their game in order to fill the big shoes. “Dhoni has a lot of confidence in youngsters like Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina. It is time for them to step up their game. It won’t be easy for the youngsters to fill their shoes, but it is a great opportunity for them to prove their worth.
“I don’t think New Zealand should pose any problems for us. We are far superior and it would be a shame if we fail to beat them. They are also without Daniel Vettori, who makes up nearly 30 per cent of the team. I am very confident of our boys at home,” Engineer concluded.