New Zealand are going to attempt to accomplish what has not been accomplished since 2012, which is to beat India in a Test series in India.
The last team to do that were England, which benefited from Alistair Cook’s incredible form to beat India 2-1.
That England team had several big names, and this Kiwi side does not match but then that India team was also chock full of stars.
Nonetheless, no version of India is easy to beat on their own soil, and the enormity of the task ahead is not lost on New Zealand coach Gary Stead, who called their hosts “one of the great challenges on the Test calendar”.
The Kiwis get back their regular captain Kane Williamson for the series. He had sat out the 3-0 T20I drubbing as the team prioritised the longer format.
India are automatic at home no matter what year, what opposition and what options.
That said, the current Indian side is missing a number of key players. Former captain Virat Kohli took himself out of contention for the opening Test, while Rohit Sharma, wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant and fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have been rested for the entire series after nonstop cricket for months.
To make matters even worse, KL Rahul has picked up an ill-timed thigh injury, leaving India with a second-string side, which spells good news for the visiting team.