The last time New Zealand were in India, they lost a Test series 3-0 and an ODI series 3-2. The final ODI featured the Kiwis being bundled out for 79 due to Amit Mishra’s fifer. Since then, India’s limited overs captaincy has changed hands and Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have risen up the ranks. New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson admits that it will be a task for the visitors to work their way around them. He also stated that the side is wary of the threat that all-rounder Hardik Pandya poses.
“Both (Kuldeep and Chahal) are very talented bowlers. Their exposure in the IPL has been huge for them and pushed their case to play for India. They both have been very successful. We know it will be a tough challenge, but one that guys are looking forward to,” Williamson told reporters in Mumbai, “It’s not too many Chinaman bowlers going around and those coming in have all been fairly successful. It’s a challenge that the guys are looking forward to,” said Williamson referring to Kuldeep. “Obviously their (Kuldeep and Chahal’s) skill sets are very good, but it’s important how we adapt to the surfaces,” he added.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja had terrorised New Zealand during the Test series in 2016 but the two have been dropped for the three-match upcoming ODI series. Instead, India’s spin department will be made of will Kuldeep, Chahal and Axar Patel “There are so many quality players within the Indian squad and they have been playing so much cricket lately that it’s only natural that certain players are rested at certain times,” said Williamson about Jadeja and Ashwin, “At times, throughout the summer, when we had busy schedules we did the same thing. It’s impossible for everyone to play all formats all the time because the schedule is so dense. It’s the nature of it, but you always know that the team India put out will be very strong.”
But the Blackcaps are not entirely unfamiliar with Kuldeep. Coach Mike Hesson pointed out that some of the key batsmen such as Williamson himself, had faced the Chinaman in the Indian Premier League, “It’s a very individual thing. A number of players have faced Kuldeep during the IPL. Some of them played in the same team (Kolkata Knight Riders), so there’s enough information sharing going on there,” said Hesson.
“Some guys watch the hand or look at the wrist, or some read it off the pitch, some see it in the air. Everybody is a little different. Wrist spinners also provide scoring opportunities, so we’ve got to make sure that we’re not necessarily jumping in shadows and we’re actually playing the ball rather than thinking of them as too much of a mystery spinner,” the coach added.
Williamson said that despite the experience some of the players have got in India, the two practice games they play on October 17 and 19 in Mumbai is important. “A number of guys have had experiences of playing over here which is always helpful, but we still want to prepare well. These two (practice) games (On October 17 and 19) coming up are important for us in our preparation,” he said. New Zealand have picked six players in the squad from their ‘A’ team which is presently touring India.
Williamson said that the ‘A’ tour gave exposure to their players about Indian conditions. “The ‘A’ tour was fantastic for our side to get exposure in this part of the world. A number of guys coming from that side into the Black Caps. It is nice to have that exposure. Most of those guys haven’t experienced this part of the world before,” he said.
Williamson also commended all-rounder Hardik Pandya. “Certainly in the last year or two, he’s been playing outstandingly well. We saw it in the IPL. And even in the series against us, he bowled very well. Now, we’re seeing him come along with the bat and making contributions that any team would be pretty happy to have from their all-rounder,” said the New Zealand skipper, “He’s a very vital player for the Indian side in terms of a fast bowling all-rounder that I suppose in these conditions, it accommodates the spinners so much, but to have a fast bowling all-rounder that bowls good pace and hits it out of the park is always exciting to have.”