New Zealand head coach Gary Stead has hinted at the possibility of his side playing with three spinners in the first Test against India, beginning Thursday in Kanpur. Stead believed that playing conditions in the series would be different than those during England’s tour of India earlier this year.
New Zealand, the inaugural World Test Champions winners, will begin the 2023 cycle with a two-match Test series against India -- the same opponents they’d beaten in the final earlier this year. The first of two Tests will be played at Kanpur’s Green Park from Thursday, November 25.
Gary Stead, the Blackcaps head coach opened up on “the enormity of the challenge” of facing India at home, and hinted that the team might go in with three spinners in the playing XI. That means William Somerville, Mitchell Santner and Mumbai-born Ajaz Patel could be the likely picks.
"You have to look and realise how teams come here often and don't win. That's the enormity of obvious challenge," Stead said during a media conference on Tuesday.
"The traditional way of playing four seamers and one part-time spinner can't be the way to go over here. You may see three spinners playing in this game, and that will be decided once we have a look at the surface.
"From our perspective, we have to change the way we play but also sticking to some of the key principles of Test cricket. We will try to be competitive for long long periods of time."
England’s tour of India earlier this year saw spinners dominate the wicket-taking charts, and the trend could well repeat during the upcoming series. While Stead admitted that spin would play a defining role, he felt that the conditions would be different from what they were during the England series.
"Look, there's no doubt those were challenging conditions, but difference is that we have two Tests at two different venues, and they (England) were playing multiple Tests at the same ground (two in Chennai and two in Ahmedabad).
"We know there will be differences as in Kanpur you will have black clay and in Wankhede, you will have red clay. These are certain adaptations that we have to make."
"I think whenever you come here and face the likes of Ashwin, Jadeja, Axar Patel, who are world-class spinners in this environment as well. For us it's about being able to adapt quickly to what the surface is telling us and what is right in front of us," said Stead.
"Sometimes when you start the match, it may not be spinning too much but it does come later on. So having multiple ideas or ways to challenge the bowlers back will be something that will be important to our group."