NEW Zealand captain Kane Williamson believes his slow-bowling trio can prove a handful for India in their own spin-friendly back yard in the three-Test series starting on Thursday (September 22).
Rolling out raging turners and unleashing the spinners has been the tried-and-tested formula behind India’s formidable home form, and the cracks on the track in Kanpur’s Green Park Stadium suggest the trend will continue against the Kiwis.
India have won each of their last three home series, against Australia, West Indies and South Africa, without losing a test.
But New Zealand seem to have done their homework and have included a trio of specialist spinners—Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner and Mark Craig—in their squad with a reasonable chance of all three playing in the series opener in Kanpur.
“They’ve got very good spinners, naturally very experienced in these conditions. But we have got some exciting young talent. We have shown that in the (World) Twenty20,” Williamson said, referring to the impressive display by leg-spinner Sodhi and left-armer Santner in the tournament in India earlier this year.
“Yes, the formats are different but we are hoping they can build on from those experiences,” Williamson said.
“There were a lot of learning experiences to be had, certainly this being one of them, being exposed in these conditions which will certainly suit spin bowling.
“We are certainly hoping they can play a big part in the series.”
Williamson had a good look at the wicket in Kanpur and the 26-year-old spotted a silver lining in the dry track, in the form of reverse-swing potential.
“Coming into it, and certainly watching the previous series here, without much grass on the block, obviously the ball deteriorates quite quickly and reverse swing and spin naturally become big factors,” he said.
“How our spin bowlers bowl will be important, but at the same time we are hoping for better reverse swing. We will have to see how things unfold.”
Williamson conceded spin might make or break fortunes in the series but did not agree fully with team mate Ross Taylor’s suggestion of employing the sweep shot frequently to negate the Indian spinners.
“I think it’s certainly up to individuals. Some guys sweep more than others,” Williamson said.
“I suppose sweeping is a big part of an Indian player’s game. They’ve got great footwork, they get forward, they get back and come down the wicket.
“You can learn a lot from the way they play but at the end of the day, it’s up to individual players who are the most comfortable with it.”