Williamson wary of Kuldeep, Chahal

"Their exposure in the IPL has been huge and it pushed their case to play for India," says the New Zealand skipper ahead of the warm-up match against BCCI President's XI on October 17 and 19.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson (extreme right) during a training session with his team-mates at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

The New Zealand team coach Mike Hesson and batting coach Craig McMillan put their nine-member team under a rigorous three-hour net session at the Cricket Club of India (CCI) on Sunday.

The Kiwis looked pleased with the practice pitches, courtesy the ground staff who work under Prakash Adhav — a long-time curator, who received encomiums in the past for his work at the stadium. Incessant rains virtually washed off most of the Kanga League matches and light drizzle in the last week may have irritated the ground staff, but there was no interruption to the visitors’ first net session.
 

Read: NZ starts tour with Sepak takraw-like drills

Williamson’s team will be playing a first international in nearly four month’s time against India at the Wankhede Stadium on October 22 and the small group — majority of whom have played the IPL — must be happy that they were able to make a good start to their preparations for the 17-day series involving three ODIs and as many Twenty20 internationals.

Williamson believes it’s tough touring India. “It’s always tough to tour India as a lot of opposition teams have found in recent times. To be two-all going into that last game a year ago (at Visakhapatnam) was a good effort. We played some good cricket. It was disappointing (to lose 3-2). It’s nice to be back here again and the guys are looking forward to the tour.’’

Williamson at 27 has already played 214 internationals comprising 61 Test matches, 114 ODIs and 39 Twenty20 matches.

Also read: Ashwin, Jadeja axe not a surprise for Williamson

He also touched upon the challenges a touring team faces in India. “The wickets out here vary so much within the country. When you say that you’re coming to India to play, you’re required to adapt from ground to ground. You’re never quite sure of the surface that you’re going to get. Part of adapting to the surface and conditions is also the climate that you’re in. It’s nice to be here a few days early and get the guys used to the heat and humidity. A number of guys have had experiences here which is always helpful, but we still want to prepare well. These two games coming up (against BCCI President’s XI on October 17 and 19) are important for us in our preparations. We hopefully would hit the ground running in the first one-dayer.’’

Last year, leg spinner Amit Mishra troubled the New Zealand batsmen taking 15 wickets and this time around, they would up against the cunning wrist spinners, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal; along with left-arm spinner Axar Patel. “Naturally, spin in this part of the world is a key factor; one that you know that you’re going to come up against in the majority of the overs. When we come here, we play on some very good surfaces and then you play on some that are more challenging, with more spin. In our last series, we saw glimpses of a variety of surfaces. At times you’ve seen a series with scores of 350 or 380, and at other times you’ve seen a winning score being 250.

“Being flexible with your approach is important. In our last series, you had mid-200 scores, you had the dew factor and a number of things that came into it. So it is important that we remain flexible and adapt well,” said the Kiwi skipper.

Talking particularly about Kuldeep and Chahal, he added, “Both are very talented bowlers. Their exposure in the IPL has been huge and it pushed their case to play for India. They both have been very successful. We know it will be a tough challenge, but our guys are looking forward. There aren’t too many chinaman bowlers going around. Obviously, their skill sets are good, but adapting to surfaces will be one of the most important things.’’

On the other hand, New Zealand coach Mike Hesson is hopeful to crack the Kuldeep code. "A number of players have faced Kuldeep in the IPL. Some of them played in the same team, so there’s enough information sharing going on there. Some guys watch the hand or look at the wrist, or some read it off the pitch, some see it in the air. Everybody is a little different. Wrist spinners also provide scoring opportunities, so we’ve got to make sure that we’re not necessarily jumping in shadows and we’re actually playing the ball," he said.

 

Four-day Tests

When asked about the recent ICC decision to trial four-day Test matches, Williamson said, “Everyone in the world cricket plays four-day first-class cricket. Time will tell to see what evolves in that area, but in a Test game, five days is still fairly effective. We are seeing so many results these days and the brand of cricket is certainly improving. But it’s going to give Test cricket a little more meaning and it’s great for the viewer as well. There will be a lot more clarity around rankings.”

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