KANPUR: New Zealand are bracing for a trial by spin in their two-Test series against India but the world champions are excited to face the acid test, captain Kane Williamson said on Wednesday.
Winning a Test series in spin-dominated India, who have not lost a series at home since late 2012, remains one of the most arduous tasks for every team in the sport.
The series between India and New Zealand, starting with the opening match at Kanpur on Thursday, will be the first between the sides since they met in the final of the World Test Championship at Southampton in June.
Williamson’s men won that contest but they have never won a test series let alone a test match since the 1988-89 tour.
“It’s been a while since that final which was a special memory, but we know we’re here against a very strong side and they’re formidable, particularly in their own conditions,” Williamson told reporters.
“I’m sure throughout the series, the spin component will be a definite factor. I’m sure, it’s no different here in Kanpur.”
The touring side have had only two training sessions as a full squad, with their Twenty20 players taking part in a three-match series ahead of the Tests. Williamson, who skipped the T20 leg, said they will have to adjust quickly.
“We know the strength of the Indian spin bowlers and they’ve been fantastic for a long period,” Williamson said, adding that they will be looking at different methods and ways to try and score against the spinners.
The hosts will be without captain Virat Kohli, who decided to skip the first Test, while openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant and fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami will miss both matches.
A depleted Indian side will, however, not make New Zealand the favourites, according to Williamson.
“One of the big strengths of Indian cricket in any format is the depth and we’ve seen that in a lot of ways over the years,” he added. “The knowledge of their own conditions is something that is quite unique for touring teams as well. The challenge is a big one and we’re excited to take that on.”
India’s stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane said his side would miss the first-choice players but their replacements were willing to stand up and be counted.
“It’s an opportunity for youngsters to back themselves and play with freedom,” said Rahane.
He brushed aside concerns over his own patchy form, saying he was just one game away from hitting a big score.
“What I am concerned about is how I can contribute to the team. You cannot score a hundred each time you come out to bat.”
Rahane, 33, scored a Test century in December but failed to impress in the following home and away series against England. In the WTC final, he made 49 and 15.
The skipper did not reveal his team combination for the Kanpur match but confirmed that batsman Shreyas Iyer would be making his Test debut Thursday.
Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2021