Hamilton: Jasprit Bumrah remains the focus as India head into the first Test against New Zealand at Wellington on Friday.
Bumrah has set such lofty standards for himself in little time at the international level that going wicketless in the recent three-match ODI series against the Kiwis came as a shocker.
Bumrah, the first Asian bowler to grab a five-wicket haul in South Africa, England, Australia and West Indies all in his first tour to these countries, would be eyeing a similar achievement in New Zealand this time.
Although he suffered a slump in the ODI series, Bumrah managed to impress in the tour game against New Zealand XI, finishing with 11-3-18-2.
Hamilton-based former NZ pacer Gavin Larsen, who is the national chief selector at the moment, has no doubt that Bumrah will not be easy to tackle. "Bumrah is a quality player. He can't be put down for too long. Just watch out for Test matches, he will bounce back," said Larsen.
Mohd Shami is the other Indian pacer that poses a huge threat to the Kiwi batsmen, according to Larsen. "Shami is an exceptional bowler. His class is evident from the time he runs in to deliver," he added.
Larsen is among the Top 10 international bowlers of the world, having played more than 100 ODIs, to have an economy rate of just 3.77 in 121 matches.
"I was very lucky in the way that I bowled [in an era] which was suited to the conditions we played back through in the 1990s. Playing 100-plus [ODIs] games was cool," said the former medium pacer who was one of the key NZ members of the 1992 World Cup team. He was called The Postman since he delivered every time.
Every era has thrown up great bowlers, but when asked about the most difficult bowlers of all time in ODIs, Larsen, even before the question is completed, said: "Sir Richard Hadlee. An absolute champion in both forms of the game. One of the greatest moments of my career was when I joined him in the changing room on one occasion."
With T20 cricket revolutionising the way the sport has been played, Larsen said he wouldn't have lasted long with "his type" of bowling. "The ability to execute plans under pressure is all about how good you are. In our time, it was a small areaback of length where we were supposed to put the ball [consistently]," says Larsen while adding that he was very lucky. "If you did that [bowling back of length] now, my kind of bowling would go for a lot of runs. You didn't have to mix up so much in my time or change pace, have so many variations."