It will be a tricky test for New Zealand as they are unlikely to get much batting practice on a pacer friendly Feroz Shah Kotla track when they face Mumbai in their only warm-up match of the tour, starting on Friday.
Going by the nature of the pitch on eve of the three-day game, senior player Ross Taylor said he was not expecting the ball to turn much at Kotla, but was aware it won’t be the case in the three-Test series, starting in Kanpur on September 22.
“Well, it is part and parcel of the way Test cricket is being played. It is no different when you come to New Zealand. We leave a little more grass on the wicket. I guess that is what home advantage is all about. We are expecting the wickets to turn over here. We are not expecting the wickets to be like this one here at Kotla. We are expecting it turn for the Test matches,” Taylor said referring to Kotla wicket, which is a fresh one with a bit of grass on it.
However, he stopped short of saying that it was a deliberate ploy by the home team to not have New Zealand play on a turning track.
“Not really. It is what we expected to see here. Last two tours, we did not even have a warm up game. So nice to have one this time.
“Even the matches we played here in Delhi during World T20 had more grass than other venues. A warm up game is a warm up game. It is a chance to get out and play in Indian conditions, obviously it is a lot warmer than back home. So it is nice to get out and stretch your legs. We are expecting a tough match against Mumbai,” added the batsman, whose only Test century in India came back in 2012.
Such has been the focus on spin for New Zealand that their spinners — Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner and Mark Craig — had a long session today while the batsmen created rough spots on practice pitches to get used to the sharp turn.
Taylor confirmed that all in the 15-man squad will get time in the middle.
For Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai, playing against a Test team will be an ideal start to its domestic campaign with the matches now being played on neutral venues.
The absence of Akhil Herwadkar, Shreyas Iyer, Shardul Thakur and Dhawal Kulkarni, who are with the India A team in Australia, gives Mumbai the chance to test their bench strength. Rohit Sharma, who was part of the Duleep Trophy final, will also be playing the match.
Captain Aditya Tare said his team will make it tough for New Zealand.
Mumbai have troubled visiting Test teams in the past. They famously beat Australia in 1998 with Sachin Tendulkar scoring a double hundred.
“Past Mumbai teams have done well against the visiting teams. We draw inspiration from that. It is a great opportunity for us that we are getting to play a quality Test team at the start of the season.
“The wicket looks nice. It should be a good game,” said Tare.