New Zealand’s batsmen know they will have to subdue India’s spinners if they are to have any chance of winning their three-match One Day International series starting Sunday.
Left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav and right-arm leg break Yuzvendra Chahal have established themselves as India’s latest attacking combination, keeping veterans Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja out of the team.
Kiwi batsman Tom Latham said the visitors were leaving no stone unturned in seeking a way to counter the Indian pair, who come into the series in the best form of their careers.
“Our focus is big on spin here. We are focusing on facing more spin than seam here and finding ways to score, to hit gaps and find boundaries,” Latham told reporters in Mumbai.
The left-handed Latham said the Kane Williamson-led New Zealanders had taken note of Kuldeep and Chahal’s recent performances.
Kuldeep, 22, has quickly emerged as one of the world’s best slow bowlers since taking four wickets in his Test debut against Australia in Dharamsala in March.
He also played a big role in India’s recent 4-1 ODI series victory over Australia, taking a hat-trick in the second match at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
He has been well supported by the 27-year-old Chahal, who tormented the Australians with his deceptive leg spinners to bag six wickets in four matches.
“We obviously know that they (Kuldeep and Chahal) are quality bowlers and they have done really well in the previous series,” Latham was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency.
Latham has been in good form himself, compiling a quickfire 108 in New Zealand’s 33-run win over an Indian Board President’s XI in the visitors’ second and final warm-up match in Mumbai.
New Zealand, ranked fifth in the world, have drafted in leg-spinner Ish Sodhi as a replacement for Todd Astle, who has been ruled out of Sunday’s match at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium after picking up a groin injury in the warm-up game.
The hosts, second in the ODI rankings, are expected to complement the two spinners with fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Virat Kohli’s India, which swept the three-match Test series against the Black Caps last year, can regain the top ODI spot from South Africa if they win the series 3-0.
The second ODI takes place in Pune on Wednesday, with the third in Kanpur on October 29. The two sides will then play three T20 matches.
Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicketkeeper), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shardul Thakur
Kane Williamson (captain), Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wicketkeeper), Henry Nicholls, Ish Sodhi, George Worker, Glenn Phillips, Matt Henry, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Trent Boult