New Zealand head coach Gary Stead has accepted that the upcoming three-match T20I and two-match Test series against India will be tough and challenging. The Blackcaps are coming off from an eight-wicket loss in the final of the recently concluded 20-20 World Cup. On the other hand, India will be starting afresh under the leadership and coaching of Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid respectively.
The Men in Blue will be without their first-choice players for the T20I series. Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, and Jasprit Bumrah have been given break due to bio-bubble fatigue. Stead, though is not taking India lightly and feels they are strong in home conditions.
"They're still very, very strong," Stead said from Dubai after the ICC T20 World Cup final.
"When you go to India you traditionally think of spin-friendly wickets, and I still see (Ravindra) Jadeja, (Ravichandran) Ashwin, and Axar Patel in their lineup.
"They are obviously guys that have performed really, really well for them in the past three or four years."
Over the past few years, New Zealand have played a consistent brand of cricket in all three formats of the game. They will look to do well in the series, albeit with a few first-choice players missing due to injuries or personal reasons. Devon Conway, Trent Boult, and Colin de Grandhomme won’t take part in the series. Few of their Test regulars such as Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, and Tom Latham, however, return for the two-match Test series. Stead admitted it would be tough to beat India but also remained optimistic about their chances.
"We know it's going to be a big challenge there," Stead added.
"(But) we have some new guys, who will be nice and fresh, and maybe add a different dynamic to the squad."