India deserves to be the number one Test side in the world, but their stay at the top would depend on how they perform away from home, feels legendary New Zealand all-rounder Richard Hadlee.

“The Indian cricket team is clearly the number one in the world. They deserve it due to some very good performances.

The big challenge for the Indian team now is to perform outside the sub-continent,” Hadlee told reporters here on the sidelines of a seminar to promote New Zealand as an investment destination.

“When you are the number one team, you have to perform off shore on foreign soil. That will be the big challenge for India, to win matches outside the country against the likes of South Africa,” he added.

Hadlee said India will face stiff challenges from other good sides like Australia and South Africa.

“Perhaps Australia would look to regain theier top billing, so it’s an exciting time for the Indian team to really excel and lift their performances outside the country. What is important for India is that they develop a good pool of players.

“A pool of fast bowlers so that if there is injury, you can have replacements that are of international standard. You need to have quality fast bowlers because bowlers will win matches. You got to have all bases covered with a good pace attack. India’s got most things covered,” he added.

Asked if he considered South Africa a better side than India, Hadlee said: “That’s not for me to comment on. All sports are about winning and losing.”

Hadlee also steered clear of the raging debate on whether the Indian Premier Leageu deliberately snubbed Pakistani cricketers at the auction this week.

“I can’t comment on that. I mean decisions are made by people. Clearly it is disappointing for the Pakistanis to not be involved but I don’t want to get into the politics of it. A decision has been made and I guess people will have to be careful and stand by that,” he said.

On whether money-spinning events like the IPL would harm international cricket, Hadlee said not until the balance is maintained.

“I think what is important for the survival of world cricket is that we don’t have Twenty20 cricket saturating the game. Most players would say that Test cricket is still at the top. There is certainly a place for Twenty20 cricket whether at international level or at the domestic level,” he said.

“But it’s important to have the balance of the game right. For me Tests is the ultimate format of the game,” he added.

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