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‘First Test will set tone for the series’

Kohli, Ashwin, Rahane

Kanpur: Batsman Ajinkya Rahane is expecting the Kanpur wicket to assist the Indian spinners and feels the team’s performance in the first Test will set the tone for the long home season, comprising 13 Test matches.

“It is exciting times for us with 13 Tests scheduled at home. The West Indies tour went well for us. Some players also featured in the Duleep Trophy before the New Zealand series. We feel we are in pretty good space at the moment,” Rahane said ahead of India’s first match of the three-Test series against New Zealand, beginning on Thursday.

The pitch has always been the talking point before the start of a home series. New Zealand were not offered a turning track in their warm-up match in Delhi but the surface in India’s 500th Test at Green Park is expected to be a turner.

However, Rahane insisted that the team was focussed only on performing, irrespective of the conditions. India’s outdoor practice session on Sunday was rained off.

“The weather is not in our control but we have generally seen slow and low wickets here, like it was in the ODI against South Africa last year. Every day (of the game) the pitch behaves differently so we will have to analyse how it would play out each day. As a team, we don’t focus on the pitch, we are focused on putting up a good performance.

“Hopefully the wicket will turn. We all know in India that wickets are helpful to spinners. That is our strength and it is important to play to our strengths,” said the batsman.

On facing New Zealand’s left-arm pacers Trent Boult and Neil Wagner in the series, Rahane said the team is aware of the challenge they could pose for the hosts.

“After seeing their videos, we will get a better idea (on how to prepare against the balls angling away). As a batting unit, we think of batting over by over and session by session. In Test cricket, every session is important,” Rahane emphasised.

In the last home series against South Africa, two out of the four games did not last beyond three days with the pitch turning square and one match was a washout. Only the Delhi Test went into the fifth day.

Rahane, however, said the team doesn’t think too much about the duration of the game.

“It is important to start from scratch. Yes, we know we are playing 13 Tests. This Test will be very crucial. It will set the tone for the rest of the home season. We all are ready for that,” he said.

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