India's Davis Cup non-playing captain and coach Ramesh Krishnan expressed a quite confidence when he said India is ready to take on New Zealand in the Asia-Oceania Group I tie, from April 4, at Kolkata's South Club.
After putting junior players Rohan Bopanna and Harsh Mankad through their paces on Monday, Krishnan said, "We are well prepared. Rohan and Mankad are playing well. They are in fine form."
Asked if the fact that the Indian team arriving in bits and pieces would affect preparations for the match, the tennis veteran said, "Paes has been playing in the circuit and is match fit. Rohan and Mankad are here and practicing. Bhupathi will be coming on Wednesday and will be playing the doubles; he will have a day's practice. So, I don't think our preparations are being hampered."
While Mankad stayed back after the ITF Futures tournament last week, Bopanna arrived on Sunday. Paes is scheduled to arrive on Monday night.
Asked about the team's startegy, Krishnan said: "Let the draw take place and then we can plan. We have to wait till the draw.
"Last year we went to New Zealand and defeated them. But the result, 4-1 in favour of India, is not a reflection of the quality of the match. Both Hunt and Neilsen played good games. We lost to them on three of the last four occasions and would certainly like to improve upon the result," he said.
India and New Zealand have faced each other four times. In 1975, India lost 1-3; in 1976, the Kiwis won 3-2, and in 1978, India again lost 1-4. It was only in 2002 that India thrashed the Kiwis 4-1.
The fact that the Kiwis are familiar to the grass courts also nullifies any advantage, Krishnan opined, adding, "So we are pretty even Stevens. The most important factor in Davis Cup is how fast one adapts to the foreign conditions. Here, the grass courts, one day it can be heavy and slow and the other day it can be fast and skiddy. This is one of the best grass courts in the country."
Asked if he has picked out any of the New Zealanders for special attention, Krishnan said, "Neilsen is their best player. But having said that I must add Hunt is of quality. Though he lost in straight sets to Paes last year he is not left over."