World Test Champions New Zealand are not favourites in India

India New Zealand

World Test Champions New Zealand don’t start their series against India as favourites according to Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson.

The world’s two top-ranked teams are gearing up for a battle in their first Test at Green Park in Kanpur.

New Zealand are world champions and the number one ranked Test team, but Williamson feels that India are always favourites when they are at home.

India have fielded a depleted team with Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami all rested while opener KL Rahul has withdrawn through injury.

“I don’t think we are favourites,” Williamson said on the eve of the first Test in Kanpur.

“One of the key strengths of Indian cricket is its depth. India has great knowledge of their own conditions, we know the challenge is a big one.”

Williamson wary of wounded India

Williamson led his side to an eight-wicket win against India in the WTC final in Southampton in June, which the hosts will look to avenge.

The Black Caps have packed their squad with five spinners and are considering playing as many as three of them in the first Test match.

“As we have seen in this part of the world, the spin component has been very large and it has played a big role in changing the complexion of the game,” said Williamson.

“I am sure throughout the whole series, the spin component will be a factor and it will be no different in Kanpur. It will be all about assessing the conditions as quickly as possible.”

India’s stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane said his side would miss the first-choice players, but has faith in their replacements to stand up and be counted.

“It’s an opportunity for youngsters to back themselves and play with freedom,” said Rahane.

Rahane brushed aside concerns over his own indifferent form, saying he was just one game away from hitting a big score.

“What I am concerned about is how I can contribute to the team. You cannot score a hundred each time you come out to bat.”

The 33-year-old scored a Test century in December but endured a lean run in the following home and away series against England. In the WTC final at the Rose Bowl, he made 49 and 15.

The skipper did not reveal his team combination for the Kanpur match but confirmed that batsman Shreyas Iyer would be making his Test debut Thursday.