If New Zealand are to claim the third Test victory in India during their upcoming series starting today (2pm AEST) they will need to overcome the two most potent home spinners since World War II.
India’s Ravichandran Ashwin (46.3 balls) and Ravindra Jadeja (48.5) have the top two strike-rates for a spinners on home soil among those to have taken 50-plus Test wickets in the past 75 years.
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Playing at home, the pair strikes more regularly than Test legends Muthiah Muralidaran (50.8), Jim Laker (54.7), their coach Anil Kumble (59.4) and Shane Warne (60.8).
Not only do the dynamic duo strike often, they do it cheaply too, with Jadeja’s average of 15.70 the lowest in 127 years, ahead of England’s Jim Briggs who played his last Test in 1899, while Ashwin averages an excellent 20.92 runs per wicket.
Ashwin takes an astonishing 6.6 wickets per Test at home (the second-best since 1900 behind Muralidaran’s 6.75), compared to just 3.9 wickets (at 33.23) per Test on foreign soil.
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While the Black Caps will undoubtedly face a tsunami of spin during the three-Test series that begins in Kanpur, it was the visiting spinners who did the damage the last time the two sides met in the subcontinent - albeit in the Twenty20 format.
New Zealand’s tweakers bamboozled Virat Kohli’s men in the opening match of the Super 10 phase of the ICC World T20 in Nagpur earlier this year.
Left-arm orthodox Mitchell Santner (4-11) and leg-spinner Ish Sodhi (3-18) were instrumental in bowling India out for just 79 in reply to New Zealand’s 7-126.
Kohli’s charges were bundled out for 112 in last year’s Test against Sri Lanka on a spin-friendly pitch in Galle where veteran Rangana Hearath claimed 7-48.
Despite winning the remaining two Tests of that series, Kohli is aware of his side’s vulnerability against the turning ball.
"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.
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"The team wants to improve on that aspect of the game, (it’s) something that (we) surely need to get stronger.”
The Black Caps have won only twice in 31 Tests in India, with their last victory coming in 1988 in Mumbai.
Nine of the 15 Black Caps in the tour squad weren’t born when that victory took place.
Santner, Sodhi and off-spinner Mark Craig could all be included for the visitors, with India coach Anil Kumble wary of their potency.
"You don't often see a foreign team with such variety in their spin attack," said Kumble. "We are aware that New Zealand are not just good at home but they tour really well.
"They are a very potent team, not just in the spin department, but all-round as well. We certainly respect their all-round ability."