The Indian team that set foot on New Zealand soil on Monday looked very different to the ones that has toured the country over the past few years. There is no Sachin, no Sehwag, no Gambhir, no Yuvraj, no Pathan.

In fact, barring skipper MS Dhoni, ODI opener Rohit Sharma, seamer Ishant Sharma, dashing middle-order bat Suresh Raina and leg-spinner Amit Mishra, none of the others have played here.

The last time the Indian team landed in the country, they were accorded superstar status, the one usually reserved for rockstars. This time though the fan fare is likely to be much lesser.

Dhoni, who was captain the last time India toured in New Zealand, immediately seemed to take the pressure off his No. 1 ranked side and called the Kiwi outfit "fantastic" and a side that cannot be taken lightly, despite them being ranked as low as No. 8.

"We'll give them the respect they should get and we know their experienced players are dangerous enough to win games by themselves." India play two Tests and five ODIs in a tour itinerary shortened by one Test and one Twenty 20 due to India's participation in the Asia Cup later on.

While the unforgiving Indian cricket lovers would demand nothing more than a win in both formats, India's form overseas, especially in Tests, is a good enough reason to temper those expectations.

What will be important though is the fact that the World Cup will be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand and India, who will be playing some key encounters in Kiwiland while defending their crown, have a chance to get accustomed to conditions.

Analysing his opponents, skipper Dhoni said, "They've got good bowlers in the side now. I would rather go into the series not taking the New Zealand team lightly. Especially at home, they'll know the conditions better than us and for some who have not played here it will be a challenge." Indeed, Corey Anderson, Adam Milne, Trent Boult and Tim Southee make for a formidable ODI bowling unit.

Contrast that to India's bowlers, who appear to be meat and drink on surfaces that don't do much and go for plenty in the end overs and the picture doesn't appear pretty. But Dhoni was in no mood to accept criticism of his bowling attack. "It has been a common question, people always talk about our bowlers getting smashed," he said.

"But we have seen over a period that they have improved, the death bowling has improved. It really depends on the conditions. But if the wicket is favouring the fast bowlers we've definitely got bowlers who can make the most out of the new ball."

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