ONE possible question any visiting captain is asked on the day after landing in India is how well is his team prepared to tackle Indian spinners? Every skipper coming to these shores should expect this query.
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson was thrown a similar question on a lazy Sunday afternoon in a posh south Mumbai hotel. He was asked how his team plans to tackle two young spinners – chinaman Kuldeep Yadav and leggie Yuzvendra Chahal.
Since the recent India vs Australia series, Yadav and Chahal have created a different buzz altogether. They have always come up with something fresh in the dressing room. Their presence and performance has allowed the selection committee to leave out R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja from the T20 and limited overs squads.
Williamson is aware of the effect of Yadav and Chahal in Indian conditions and it was one reason he had kept his eye on the India-Australia series.
“They both have been very successful. We know it will be a tough challenge, but one that the guys are looking forward to. It’s not too many Chinaman bowlers going around, and they’ve all been fairly successful. Obviously, the skill sets of our players are very good, but how we adapt to surfaces will be one of the most important things,” Williamson said. New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said that a number of players have faced Kuldeep during the Indian Premier League. Some of them even played in the same team.
“So there’s enough information-sharing going on there. 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,” he pointed out.
It was precisely a year ago that New Zealand made their last trip to India.
A lot has changed in Indian cricket since. The BCCI is run by a Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators. Hardik Pandya has become a cult figure, Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s effectiveness has assured Ashish Nehra that India has a quality death bowler and yes, the Delhi left-arm pacer will be retiring in a fortnight.
Williamson feels that when one travels to India, one has to adapt from ground to ground. “You’re never quite sure of the surface that you’re going to get. Part of the adapting to the surface and conditions is also the climate that you’re in. It’s nice to be here a few days early and get guys used to the heat and humidity,” he says.
The Indians are in top form with their batting and bowling line-up ticking all boxes. The New Zealanders do not want to take too much baggage from past results. However, in a short tour which begins next week, Williamson will probably be asked about Indian spinners again.