India is all set to resume their grueling home season from September 22 against New Zealand for a three-match Test series. The opening match of the series will be played at Green Park, Kanpur.
Virat Kohli lead Indian team has come back from a successful four match West Indies series in the Caribbean where India defeated West Indies 2-0 while New Zealand lost to South Africa in a two-match series by a margin of 1-0.
New Zealand is not a good visiting team in Indian conditions. They last won a match in India 1988 under the captaincy of John Wright.
But whenever a mighty team like Australia, England or South Africa visit the subcontinent, India rely on a rank turner to bamboozle the opposition team with whirling spin. Last year, South Africa came to India as a No. 1 team, but at the end of the series they surrendered to India 3-0 in the series. Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was announced man of the series and Ravindra Jadeja as a bowler played the second fiddle.
So what will India dish out this time as New Zealand tour India? Will India make a rank turner in the very first Test of the series at Green Park? The answer is no. The Black Caps have players like Ross Taylor, captain Kane Williamson and Luke Ronchi, who may get selected for the first Test over Martin Guptill, who play spin really well. At the same team, New Zealanders have three spinners in their rank. Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner, and Mark Craig could be as dangerous as Indian trio-Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and Amit Mishra.
In the last couple of the years, we have seen that India struggled against quality spin even at home conditions. In 2015 during the Sri Lanka tour Rangana Hearth bamboozled India in the first Test and at home, even South African opener Dean Elgar’s part-time spin fumbled India.
So, India didn’t dare to ask for a rank turner this time around. With this New Zealand series, India will resume a 13 Test home series. Following the Black Caps, world’s most balanced Test team England will visit India and then in February and March Australia will tour India.
Former Indian Team Director and commentator Ravi Shastri said, “So 13 home Tests in a season is like freebies from telecoms. You chalk up numbers and it doesn’t hurt your pocket. It’s an examination where you not only set the paper but give numbers to self too.”
Ravi Shastri explained why the Kanpur pitch will not be a vicious turner. “New Zealand has one factor in their favour. They bat deep. They are also stout in heart. Every man would do his best and that’s a legacy which precedes even Brendon McCullum and Stephen Fleming. One is also told a few would try to take the bull by the horn. In theory , it means you take the spinners on. The very least it does is make the captain spread the field.There are fewer eyes looking at the edges of your bat, lesser hands waiting to pouch the catch and the eloquence of mouth is also spared,” Shastri, who was at the helm when India defeated South Africa and Sri Lanka, stated.
He further added,“Interestingly, Kanpur could allow them to ease into their mission. For one, it won’t be a vicious turner in the initial days.The monsoon has lingered on, the season has begun early and it might not be as dry as those apricots which housewives spread on their terraces under a blazing sun. It could be a game of patience.”
India have batsmen like Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahne who will be in the middle to nullify the New Zealand’s most potent weapon in Indian conditions the spin. Tim Southee’s may affect New Zealand’s team spirit, but bowler Neil Wagner could be the most lethal at pace friendly Kanpur pitch along with Trent Boult.
This three-match series is crucial for India before taking on England in November. In 2012, England won the series in India, so this time, Indians will look to pay them back in kind.