New Zealand opened their World Trials defense against India this week looking tired after a long road trip and the emotional disappointment of the T20 World Cup.
Whitewashed 3-0 by India in a T20 series following their World Cup final loss to Australia, the ‘Black Caps’ have lost that sense of victory as they head to the first test in Kanpur on Thursday against an opponent hungry for revenge. New Zealand may have fond memories of beating India at Southampton to win the inaugural WTC trophy in June, but the neutral territory of the Rose Bowl could hardly seem further away.
Without the spearhead of rhythm Trent Boult and the versatile Colin de Grandhomme, New Zealand will face the same opponents where they have never won a test series, let alone an event since the 1988/89 tour. “You realize the enormity of the challenge that lies ahead,” head coach Gary Stead told reporters on Tuesday.
“India are a fantastic team. They also have world class spinners in their environment here.” (They are) one of the big challenges on the testing schedule. It’s something we haven’t done in a while, we haven’t been here since 2016, but we certainly look forward to what lies ahead. “
New Zealand will only have two full squad training sessions before Thursday, with the T20 players joining the camp on Monday following the loss in Kolkata. A number of players are well short of fitness, including drummer Ross Taylor and paceman Neil Wagner.
Coaches have yet to decide who will replace batsman Devon Conway for the first test after breaking his hand hitting his bat at the World Cup. “We are as prepared as possible in this COVID world,” Stead said.
“India is also coming out of a T20 series… Hopefully for us they are in a similar boat to what we are too.” New Zealand’s four-pronged attack reigned supreme in the latest WTC cycle affected by COVID, but the Black Caps will not be able to fall back on their traditional strengths in Kanpur and Mumbai.
They’re hoping left arm spinner Ajaz Patel and spinner Will Somerville can put pressure on India’s powerful hitting team, with versatile Mitch Santner also likely to be available with left arm rotation. Stead acknowledged that New Zealand would need to deal with some players carefully after their long stint on the road, but said there was little time to dwell on things.
“In two weeks we will be on a plane home, things are going to happen very quickly for us,” he said. “So it is very important that we focus on the work and the challenge that lies ahead.”
(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)