I mean, we obviously don’t, right? I remember watching a 1990s India-New Zealand series in India, when I was much younger, and even then — when my cricket craziness was at its peak — I could not care less. Why is this? Because New Zealand has no Andrew Symonds? Because there have been few off-field controversies, or even on-field ones?
As far as I know the Indian fan, the most important series run like this: Pakistan, Australia, now South Africa, and lastly, England. Obviously, a loss is always a loss, and no one would forgive one against, say, Sri Lanka, but no one would relish a victory that much either. But New Zealand? There’s very little cultural connection here
But behind all the preview talk of this upcoming series, I’ve detected a certain amount of unease in the Indian camp: Rahul Dravid insists that the last effort, in 2002-2003, was an “aberration,” and even some Kiwi commentators agree that the conditions were too much. That was also before India’s “abroad” reputation had grown, but now — after England, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, the West Indies, Zimbabwe — India has more to prove. If they lose here again, some of their shine will be taken away (not least because New Zealand doesn’t strike anyone as particularly threatening).
So don’t write this series off just yet. It’s the final frontier now.