R Ashwin Virat Kohli India
Can R Ashwin dominate the New Zealand batsmen? Virat Kohli will certainly hope soReuters

Domination was the word that came to mind the last time India played a home Test series, with Virat Kohli stamping his authority as the captain of the five-day side by guiding his team to an emphatic win over South Africa. Waiting for India in their latest home season this time around are New Zealand, England, Australia and Bangladesh, with the Kiwis first up.

India would not have forgotten the manner in which the New Zealand spinners bamboozled and embarrassed them in their opening match of the World T20 2016, and with that in mind, Kohli and co. will do well not to consider this New Zealand challenge as the easier of the three really big Test series' that await them.

New Zealand, when in form, are a match for any side in the world, and while their dynamism and that sheer-excitement level might have decreased a touch with the retirement of Brendon McCullum, they remain a major force in all forms of the game.

The Kiwis have three quality spinners in Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner and Mark Craig, and as India showed in that ill-fated WT20 match and in the South Africa series, they are not the greatest of players of spin anymore.

But then, that spin is what is likely to give India the advantage in this series, and throughout the home season. With R Ashwin bowling like he has the ball on a string and Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra for company, India have the bowling firepower to knock out any batting lineup. The challenge for New Zealand will be to somehow negate the spinners, because if they do that, as good as Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar or Umesh Yadav might be, they will have a chance of coming up trumps in this series.

But, negating the spin bowling of India's, particularly Ashwin's, is easier said than done. The likelihood remains the India spinners enjoying a wicket-filled series, much like the one against South Africa, which then will put the onus on the home team's batsmen to score the necessary runs.

South Africa, despite not really having a potent Test match spinner in the team, troubled the India batsmen, which suggests the likes of Sodhi, Santner and Craig will pose a fair few uncomfortable questions as well. If the likes of Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane – the two most important batsmen in the lineup – Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, if he plays, Rohit Sharma, the same there as well, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul can answer them or not will decide the outcome of this Test series, and how close it eventually ends up being.

Test series schedule.

1st Test: India vs New Zealand.

Date: 22 September to 26 September.

Time: 9.30am IST.

Venue: Green Park, Kanpur.

2nd Test: India vs New Zealand.

Date: 30 September to 4 October.

Time: 9.30am IST.

Venue: Eden Gardens, Kolkata.

3rd Test: India vs New Zealand.

Date: 8 October to 12 October.

Time: 9.30am IST.

Venue: Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore.

TV listings: India: Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD1, Star Sports 3 and Star Sports HD3 (last two in Hindi commentary). New Zealand: Sky Sport 3. UK: Sky Sports 2. Middle East: OSN Cricket. USA and Canada: Willow TV.

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