India is known for its spin-friendly tracks, and the upcoming Test series against New Zealand could also feature similar pitches assisting the slower bowlers. The New Zealand team management is also aware of this, and has come with three spinners – Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi and Mark Craig for the tour starting with the first Test at Kanpur's Green Park Stadium on Sept. 22.
These NZ spinners have an important role in the series, if they are to emerge victorious. There will be turn for the spinners, but they need to master the conditions to get past India batsmen, who are habituated in playing under such tracks.
With players like Virat Kohli, Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane and other batsmen apt at playing spin, the challenge for the New Zealand spinners is huge. Add NZ spinners' lack of experience in Test cricket, the Black Caps have a tough task in their hand. Santner, Sodhi and Craig, in total, have only played 34 Test matches so far.
But, they can draw inspiration from Santner and Sodhi's performance in the World T20 earlier in the year, where they were superb in conditions assisting the spinners. They even troubled Indian batsmen in the competition, dismissing the home team for 79 runs with Santner picking four wickets and Sodhi dismissing three.
Such bowling will be required once again. But there will be more pressure on the spinners in Test cricket as they will have to bowl consistently for five days. However, none of the New Zealand spinners have played red ball cricket at the senior level in India, which might be a problem for the Black Caps.
Talking about problems, they also need to adjust to the SG cricket balls used in India, compared to what they are acquainted to, playing with Kookaburra. They need to make all these changes to have a great impact in the Test series.
Despite the challenges, NZ coach Mike Hesson is banking on the spinners to deliver against India. "The challenge for us is firstly in adjusting to the different ball - the SG Test is going to be completely different to what we have been operating with the Kookaburra," ESPN Cricinfo quoted Hesson as saying.
"So, there is a little bit of change there, a little bit of changing around seam angles, which are different over here than they are in different parts of the world," he added.
Hesson also says that the bowlers will have to make sure that they find a way to create opportunities early in the innings. "All those three are keen learners of the game and certainly we are going to put a lot of faith in them over the coming weeks," he said.
If the New Zealand bowlers manage to come with their A game against India, the Test series is expected to be a cracker.