India may be T20 world champions, they may have begun to acquire a winning aura in ODIs, but it's the Test honours they deeply crave for. Any cricketer worth his salt wants to be known by his Test record, and all the riches and glamour that come along with success in shorter version isn't good enough compensation.
In the backdrop of what has happened to Indian teams of the years gone by on these shores, the current visit ought to be a redemption tour for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men.
In the longer format, India have a brilliant mix. Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag stay at the crease on their own terms, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman can dazzle the eye, and then there's Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni following them. That should give one a fair idea of the quagmire awaiting Daniel Vettori and his team.
It's no exaggeration that despite the baggage of history, this Indian team starts the series as favourites. New Zealand's best chance to tame the fabled Indian batting lies in rolling out a friendly wicket. The surface here seems hard, and should offer both seam and swing. Indians would keep coming at them and how New Zealand choke the flow of runs and also pick up wickets at the same time will hold the key to their chances.
India would be strengthened by the induction of Laxmipathy Balaji. Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma will always need watching; and if these three are sure starters, then leggie Amit Mishra might have to wait. Indians don't quite field two spinners abroad these days, but they ought to think again. Vettori and Jeetan Patel were more than handful against England in Hamilton last year, and they would try and be as menacing again.
The three Tests would happen in quick time, and hence the early exchanges would be important. The chances of recovery would be slim for any team losing its foothold. The hosts are doughty customers and they don't go down without a fight. Nearly everyone in their line-up can bat, so early damages wouldn't guarantee they would be easily rolled over. India would need intensity and focus all the times.