Riding on the tactical acumen of coach Anil Kumble and leadership skills of captain Virat Kohli, Team India will embark on a gruelling home season when they take on New Zealand in the three-match Test series, slated to begin on 22 September in Kanpur.
Kohli-led India are buoyant after winning the four-match Test series against West Indies, while the visiting Kiwis will be looking to bounce back from their recent defeat against South Africa in the two-match series.
Adapting to the Indian conditions has always been a challenge for the teams outside the sub-continent and New Zealand is no different. Australia, England and South Africa have all struggled on India's rank turners lately and the Kiwis could suffer a similar fate against India's deadly spin trio.
On the other hand, Team India looks formidable on the home turf, both in the batting and bowling department. More importantly, the fact that the first match is going to be India's historic 500th Test should motivate the Kohli brigade to do well.
The great spin battle
For a pitch that is expected to aid spin bowlers, both India and New Zealand have fielded good spinners in their squad and they are expected play a key role, not just in the first clash, but in the entire three-match series.
Ravichandran Ashwin has been India's premier spinner for quite a while now and the Indian offie will once again spearhead his team's spin bowling attack. Amit Mishra is another experienced campaigner who has complemented Ashwin while bowling in tandem from the other end. Ravindra Jadeja's availability in the playing XI adds more venom to the deadly spin trio capable of turning the game around.
Wary of India's spin attack, the Kiwis are ready to give the hosts a taste of their own medicine with a potentially threatening trio of Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi and Mark Craig on a turning Green Park strip. The young spin trio might lack the experience in Test cricket, but their ability to trouble the opposition batsmen with turn and flight will surely set the tone for New Zealand's success.
Ind vs NZ Test records
The first Test match between India and New Zealand dates back to 1955 when Polly Umrigar's side hammered the Kiwis 2-0 to clinch the five-match series. In the 56 Tests so far, India boasts of 18 wins against New Zealand's 10 triumphs alongside 26 draws and a match being abandoned.
As far as the batting record is concerned, Kane Williamson (496 runs) is the leading run-scorer against India in the current New Zealand squad. For India, it's none other than their captain Virat Kohli who has scored 426 runs in the four Tests he has played against the Kiwis.
In the bowling department, Ishant Sharma (30 wickets) is the leading wicket-taker against New Zealand from the current Indian squad. On the other hand, Tim Southee (25) - who has been ruled out of the upcoming series - leads the wicket tally for his side against India.
New Zealand's trial by spin
The Indian rank turners have been the nemesis for a majority of cricket bigwigs who have toured the country in recent years. The Kiwis, too, had a forgetful outing when they visited India in 2012. New Zealand were handed a 2-0 whitewash following the heroics of Ashwin (18) and Pragyan Ojha (13) who claimed 31 scalps between them.
The upcoming series could probably witness a similar show as highlighted by New Zealand's recently-concluded warm-up game against Mumbai. The three-day match saw the Kiwis losing 11 wickets to Mumbai spinners and leaking 424 runs with three opposition batsmen scoring a hundred.
The senior players - including charismatic captain Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill - will have to step up their game and lead from the front if New Zealand intend to survive the trial by spin.
India's gruelling home season
In what appears to be a test of character and temperament, India will battle it out with the likes of New Zealand, England and Australia in the 13 Test matches scheduled to played at home in the upcoming season.
After the three-match series against New Zealand, India will host England for five Tests slated to begin on 9 November. The Australian side will be next in line who are scheduled to visit India for a five-match Test series likely to be held in February, 2017.
Playing in the home conditions surely gives India an upper hand but, more importantly, it gives the Kohli brigade a great chance to extend their dominance in the longest format and reclaim the top Test rank that they lost to Pakistan earlier in August.
India: Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Henry Nicolls, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, BJ Watling, Luke Ronchi, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Neil Wagner, Mark Craig, Matt Henry