India will kickstart a full-fledged tour of New Zealand by the last week of January. India will play five T20Is, three ODIs and 2 Tests. It will be a tough test for the rampaging Team India in all formats.
India lost the Test series 1-0 in New Zealand in 2013/14. And in the last tour in 2018/19, India won the ODI series 4-1, while lost the T20I series 2-1.
New Zealand have always been a tough place to win. Here is a look at five challenges awaiting India in the Test series.
Fast and bouncy pitches
New Zealand offer fast and bouncy pitches that are difficult to play on. In 2002/03, India were made to play on drop-in pitches that made batting extremely difficult for batsmen from either side. India’s lack of inexperience cost them the series 2-0. It won’t be easy this time around as well. New Zealand are born and raised on such pitches and it will be difficult for Team India to cope with Kiwi grounds.
Although India are the No 1 Test team in the world, New Zealand pitches will pose a tough challenge for Indian batsmen.
Coping with New Zealand pacers
Just like how foreign batsmen struggle to deal with Indian spinners on the sub-continent, similarly, Indian batsmen too would struggle against the Kiwi pacers in New Zealand. Kiwi bowlers such as Trent Boult and Tim Southee are fierce bowlers on their home soil. It will the toughest challenge for India to score runs off the Kiwi pacers.
Indian openers lack experience of playing in foreign conditions
India’s first-choice openers – Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal – lack experience of opening in Tests in overseas conditions. Most of their success as Test openers have come in home conditions where the two have dominated the bowling attack. But overseas conditions will be a difficult ball game for the two. Can the two live up to the challenge?
Lack of genuine pace-bowling all-rounder
With Hardik Pandya still recovering from a back injury, India have a problem at hand. Who will provide the balance to the team? Shivam Dube is still a work in the progress. Counting on him to deliver the goods consistently will be too much of a task for him? The only spin all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja may be rendered ineffective due to the nature of pitches in New Zealand.
India may have to fight off their mindset and believe that they are capable of beating all teams in all conditions. Although India have won in Australia recently, the old, negative mindset may continue to haunt them, especially when the middle-lower order will be exposed or their lack of a match-winning all-rounder will come to the fore. Can India rise up to the challenge?