Ahead of India's first Test against New Zealand at Kanpur, coach Anil Kumble has stated that the team has not demanded rank-turners for the opener tomorrow. Kumble was heartened to note that spinner played such a huge role in both teams, although he asserted that the Indian spinners were superior.
Preparing rank-turners that deteriorate into dustbowls in three days has been the norm as India has defeated rivals over the past few years in their backyard. The practice assumed legitimacy under Ravi Shastri who defended it until his time at the helm. However, speaking to media ahead of the first Test, Anil Kumble decided to clarify the change in the wind.
"We have not demanded any pitch. We will play on whatever surface is there," the Indian head coach said yesterday. The move comes as calls for sporty pitches have come from all quarters – including off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.
"We go in with the thought that our spinners are better, and if you see their experience and quality, they are very good. We hope that the performance we showed in West Indies continues here," he added.
Kumble, however, pointed that the Kanpur pitch has traditionally been spinner-friendly. "I think it's a typical Kanpur wicket. It's the start of the season, there's been quite a bit of rain. And in September we haven't played that often here. The pitch looks good, and I believe whatever talk is there about the pitch should be on the cricket that is played on it," he stated. New Zealand coach Mike Hesson had, incidentally, been told by the curator to expect a hard and bouncy pitch for the match.
Kumble also noted that the Kiwis as well have three spinners in their midst- leggie Ish Sodhi, Mitchel Santner and offie Mark Craig. Sodhi and Santner also have some experience under their belt of Indian conditions – the two had bowled in tandem to great effect during the T20 World Cup held in India last year. Kumble praised the spin attack saying, "The fact that they have three spinners, yes we watch them... It's heartening to see spinners playing a major role in not just Indian teams but foreign teams (as well). They have different variations in their spin attack, that's something you don't often see in a foreign team.
"We know that New Zealand is a very potent team, not just in the spin department but all-round as well. We certainly respect their all-round ability."
Kumble pressed upon the Indian team of their need to take the series as a challenge with the considerable loss of home advantage these days, given most of them have played in the IPL.
"I don't think there is any intrigue left, but the challenge is to adapt to those conditions as quickly as possible. It's equally the same for the home team as well because you're playing so much of cricket. It's all about adapting to whatever challenges are forthcoming.
"Yes, the home team certainly has the advantage of knowing and playing in these conditions, growing up in these conditions. For a foreign team, since they travel so much...the conditions are no longer alien.
"Since most of the New Zealand players have played in the IPL, they know what to expect and how to adapt to these conditions. When we analyse the opposition, we look at all of that and make our plans," he concluded.