KANPUR: Skipper Virat Kohli conceded Wednesday that India must bat better against spin, as the favourites prepare to take on a dangerous New Zealand in the first Test in Kanpur.
Kohli pointed to India’s loss last year at the hands of Sri Lanka’s spinners on a raging turner as evidence of his side’s weakness, as they begin their quest to regain the number one world ranking spot.
His team take on the Black Caps on Thursday in the first of three Tests and India’s 500th in total, at Kanpur’s Green Park which is expected to prove favourable to spinners.
“It’s an area where we can improve, we have lost a Test match in Sri Lanka because we couldn’t play as well as we would have liked,” Kohli told reporters.
“The team wants to improve on that aspect of the game, its something that we surely need to get stronger,” he said, adding that his batsmen were working on this.
Sri Lankan veteran spinner Rangana Herath claimed seven wickets to skittle India for 112 last August in a stunning victory, although India went on to win the next two matches.
Kohli, known for his aggressive brand of cricket, said he was impressed with New Zealand’s “fearless” style of play in recent times and believes the visitors will prove tough opponents.
“I think Kane is leading the side very well. We expect very good competition and good hard-fought cricket,” Kohli said of his opposite number Kane Williamson.
India, who start the series strong favourites after their recent 2-0 away victory against the West Indies, are also eyeing a return to the top of the International Cricket Council rankings.
India recently toppled Australia from the top of the rankings, only to be leapfrogged by their archrivals Pakistan.
India’s spin king Ravichandran Ashwin is in form, picking up 17 wickets in the Caribbean, while batsmen Lokesh Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane have also been in good knick.
Williamson said his young side would be looking to build on their success at this year’s World Twenty20 when they reached the semi-finals.
“We have got some exciting young talent. We showed that in the T20 world cup.” “That was huge for us. Yes, the formats are different, but I am hoping we can build on from those experiences,” the 26-year-old said.
New Zealand, who recently suffered a 1-0 loss against South Africa, will be counting on its spin bowlers including Indian-born Ish Sodhi, along with Mitchell Santner and Mark Craig.
“Yes, how our spin bowlers bowl will be important. But at the same time we are hoping for a bit of reverse swing and that certainly brings the seamers into it,” said Williamson, who heads into his third series as skipper.