A formidable Indian cricket team is expected to dominate the visiting New Zealand by revelling in home conditions in its historic 500th Test match, which will herald the beginning of a long 13-match home season, here from Thursday.
There is an extra bit of statistics and history attached with the match for it being the team’s 500th Test match since it started playing the game 80 years back.
The team played its first ever Test when it was a British colony in 1932 but over the years, has established itself as a force in world cricket.
The Indian team has always been an intimidating side on spin-friendly tracks under sultry conditions and the script is unlikely to change unless the Kiwis master the conditions.
However, the threat of rains looms large on the opening Test of the three-match series with predictions of heavy downpour in the next six days.
The Green Park track promises to be a true Indian Test wicket where spinners will have a major role to play and skipper Virat Kohli will have no hesitation in going in with Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra.
Moreover, New Zealand have not had enough practice to get ready for the series. The only warm-up game they played against Mumbai was on a flat Feroz Shah Kotla track in Delhi, where their bowlers bled runs.
Martin Guptill, one of the Kiwis’ best batsmen in recent times, lasted a mere 21 balls in his two innings even as Luke Ronchi staked claim for the opener’s slot with a century in the second innings of that game.
It was actually Mumbai who dominated the practice match with three of their batsmen striking a century each in the first innings.
Even history is heavily stacked against the visitors, who have not won a Test on the Indian soil in their last 14 attempts. The last Test New Zealand won here was way back in 1998.
In the 15-man squad, young captain Kane Williamson along with Ross Taylor is the most experienced player with five Tests here.
In complete contrast, India have won nine of their last 10 Tests played at home and the only draw was against South Africa last year in Bangalore and that too because it was a weather-affected contest.
(With PTI inputs)