The Indian cricket team will begin a long season of 13 home tests which commences on September 22 with a three match test series against New Zealand, followed by five one day internationals.
The Kiwis just lost a two match test series in South Africa 1-0 where the first test was cancelled due to bad weather and they lose the second test by 204 runs after the South African pace trio of Steyn, Philander and Rabada tore through the Kiwi battling line-up. New Zealand do not have a lot of time to acclimatize from the pace and swing of the South African pitches to the dust bowls found in the Indian sub-continent.
New Zealand will play their first test at Kanpur, before heading over to the Eden Gardens in Kolkata and finishing in Indore. All three venues are known for producing pitches that will suit India’s spinners. The Kiwis have a reputation of playing pace better than they do spin and will have a tough time handling the likes of Ashwin, Jadeja and Mishra. Captain Kane Williamson and H Nicholls were the only two batsman who managed to stand up to the South African quicks and will have to play long innings if New Zealand are to pose any threat to India.
India on the other hand have just returned from the West Indies with a series win and are high on confidence. Captain Virat Kohli scored his first double century, vice-captain Rahane put together some good scores and Ashwin had a great run with both ball and bat. This will also be coach Anil Kumble’s first home series and his experience and advice on spinning pitches will definitely benefit team India.
In a statement, Rahane speaking of Kumble’s influence said “He has been phenomenal with his inputs. His passion is unmatched. He has an eye for every minute detail. He told me that I am doing well and key to consistency is focusing on routines.”
One of the big decisions for both Kumble and Kohli during the Kiwi series is determining the balance of the team. Kohli has generally preferred to play five bowlers but changed that strategy during the last test match against the West Indies by picking the extra batsman and playing four bowlers. Kohli has maintained that he will rely on a horses for courses selection policy which means that there is a strong possibility that three spinners could be a part of the playing eleven against the Kiwis.