Former Team India all-rounder Irfan Pathan believes that Team India must be wary of New Zealand captain Kane Williamson in the two-match Test series, which begins on November 25 in Kanpur. Williamson, who opted out of New Zealand’s 3-0 loss in the T20I series, will return to head the team in the Tests as the Kiwis begin their title defence of the World Test Championship. Notably, earlier this year in the United Kingdom, New Zealand beat India in the first edition’s final, with the Asian side playing poor cricket.
“If we are talking about the two-Test series, if anybody can challenge Team India, it is Kane Williamson, the guy himself, because he is a brilliant player. This is especially true when it comes to Test cricket.” Pathan said this on Star Sports’ Follow the Blues, ahead of the live cricket series.
“However, the second largest obstacle for the Indian squad would be playing at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, since that surface will be very much suited to New Zealand players as well due to its bounce. Unless we get a top-tier turner if the surface is as nice and bouncy as it is in general, New Zealand may pose a significant danger,” he warned.
In the Kohli-Dravid collaboration, there will be a high level of understanding in the long run which could benefit Team India: Irfan Pathan
Pathan also marked the beginning of the Kohli-Dravid era, as this would be India’s first assignment in the longest format under new head coach Rahul Dravid, who has taken over from Ravi Shastri. Meanwhile, Kohli, who is rested for the Kanpur Test, which will be led by Ajinkya Rahane, will return for the second and final Test in Mumbai on December 3.
“Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli, the skipper, will form a fresh partnership. I don’t see an issue, especially in the lengthier format, since Rahul Dravid is the kind of man who loves to come into the system and doesn’t affect the system significantly. He’s a highly technical – tactical man, but he won’t disturb; even as captain, he never disrupted; instead, he always helped raise the confidence of the players.
One thing is certain: there will be a high level of understanding and communication in this collaboration, and junior players will be given the same significance as veteran players in the squad. I’m not saying this hasn’t happened before, but I’ve played under Rahul Dravid and it was quite evident; if there was a new player in the squad, it was not difficult to assist them get into the team, and it was entirely down to Rahul Dravid’s approach,” Pathan concluded.
Team India has the advantage in the two-match series at present; can they capitalize on it?
Team India ended the first Test match on a real high, though there were instances where they were not the better side and the inconsistency was quite visible. Whether it was fatigue or just mental exhaustion, they were slow at times and gradually got into the game, which was rather visible to the fans and the Pundits alike.
It was as if the Kiwis were just not fully into the game and lost the plot at the very end. Things could have been so different in that Test match but that is just how cricket is at the end of the day.
Team India will like to build on the momentum that they have against New Zealand at present. The hosts look the “more serious” side at present, while the visitors are just there to play the series and move on (as per what has been visible so far). There is no real fight from Kane Williamson and co. to push for a major result.
It seems understandable, as the first T20 match between the two teams started just a few days after New Zealand played a T20 World Cup final. Bio-bubbles and high intensity cricket with the lack of breaks is something that is having its toll on all cricketers across the globe. That is also probably the reason why the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and co. opted to take a break and get back to full fitness, physically and mentally both.