Kiwis brace for a 'spinlash' in India
New Zealand will be braced for a spin backlash from hosts India when they meet in a two-Test series starting on Wednesday.india Updated: Oct 06, 2003 14:57 IST
New Zealand will be braced for a spin backlash from hosts India when they meet in a two-Test series starting on Wednesday.
The world's third-ranked test side are aiming to achieve what world champions Australia could not in 2001 -- become only the second team to win a Test series in India in nearly 17 years.
Stephen Fleming's side have arrived with valuable inputs on countering slow sub-continent pitches gained from their drawn test series in Sri Lanka in April.
Fleming led from the front with a brilliant 274 not out for the second highest test score by a New Zealand batsman in the first Colombo test, superbly countering champion off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan to average 188 in the two-test series.
New Zealand this time face opponents highly motivated to win what has been dubbed the "revenge series".
India are determined to avenge their rout in a two-test series in New Zealand late last year, where they lost both the matches inside three days on underprepared pitches.
Only Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid managed test fifties as India's batting floundered in seam-friendly conditions, a factor which also led to their 5-2 defeat in the one-day series.
Although their seven-wicket win in the Super Six to knock New Zealand out of this year's World Cup was seen as some revenge, most Indian players still regard the business as unfinished.
India captain Saurav Ganguly has warned New Zealand that they would find the going tough against off-break Harbhajan Singh and leggie Anil Kumble, both proven match-winners at home.
West Indies showed in 1983 and South Africa, spearheaded by Allan Donald, in 2000, that sheer pace was the best way to overcome India at home.
However, New Zealand are without injured strike bowler Shane Bond and all-rounder Chris Cairns, who is out for personal reasons.
Daryl Tuffey and Jacob Oram, front-runners to share the new ball, and 21-year-old Ian Butler, struggled during New Zealand's two drawn warm-up games.
In batting, opener Mark Richardson warmed up with a patient 128 not out against India A last week, but middle-order batsmen Craig McMillan and Nathan Astle looked far from assured.
McMillan, who was dropped for the Sri Lanka tour, has not gone past 18 in his last eight test innings while Astle, who underwent knee and hernia operations in the summer, was out for duck and five against India A last week.
Playing their first test for almost a year, India are also using the series to prepare for the tough test tour of Australia at the turn of the year.
They are set to give uncapped Delhi opening batsman Akash Chopra his test debut in Ahmedabad in their continued search for a durable player at the top of the order.
The 26-year-old Chopra, highly rated for his fine temperament and shot selection, was chosen after hitting a patient 103 not out and 66 in the two tour games against New Zealand.
The second test will be played at Mohali from October 16, followed by a one-day triangular series also featuring Australia.