On September 22, India will take on the Kiwis at the Green Park stadium in Kanpur. The Test series, first in the few to come this home season, gives India an opportunity to regain the No. 1 spot. The match marks both the start of a three-Test series against the Black Caps and a packed programme of international cricket for India, which will also host England, Bangladesh and Australia later this season.
A look at what to expect from the Test series against New Zealand:
» History’s weight will be felt when Kanpur’s Green Park Stadium hosts the first Test. The aura of a major milestone will linger as India will play its 500th Test, a steady progress from its maiden venture against England at Lord’s in 1932 when C.K. Nayudu’s men showed that they could compete despite a 158-run defeat.
» Former captains such as Sunil Gavaskar and Mohammad Azharuddin are expected to join Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev at Kanpur’s Green Park as part of the festivities organised by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
» India are strong favourites after their recent 2-0 victory over the West Indies in a four-match away series, which saw Kohli scoring his first Test double century in Antigua.
» Batsman Ajinkya Rahane is expecting the Kanpur wicket to assist the Indian spinners and believes the team’s performance in the first Test will set the tone for the long home season.“It is exciting times for us with the 13 Tests scheduled at home. The West Indies tour went well for us. Some players also featured in the Duleep Trophy before the New Zealand series. We feel we are in pretty good space at the moment,” Rahane said.
» The series also marks Anil Kumble’s first home assignment as coach and he is expected to pack the Indian bowling line-up with three spinners, including Ravichandran Ashwin who took 17 wickets in the Caribbean.
» The hosts will also be bolstered by the return on home soil of medium-pacer Mohammed Shami, who took 11 wickets in the West Indies after a long lay-off.
» India start the series just one point behind Pakistan, and they will be hopeful of returning to number one before Pakistan play three Tests against the West Indies in October and November.
» NZ coach Mike Hesson has hinted at the possibility of fielding three spinners — Mark Craig, Ish Sodhi and Michell Santner — in a match.
» The Kiwis have been greeted with a “grassy” surface, unlike the customary pitch at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground, for the match practice match. But expect the Kanpur wicket to assist the Indian spinners.
» Fast bowler Trent Boult can expect a heavy workload after the visitors lost Tim Southee to an ankle injury just before the start of the series.