India aim for whitewash against struggling Kiwis
Seeking to complete a whitewash, India will again rely on the guile and skill of their spinners when they take on a hapless New Zealand in the second and final cricket Test in Bangalore on Friday.
A 2-0 triumph will go a long way in erasing bitter memories of the previous season, during which India were routed 4-0 by both England and Australia when they toured there.
The Indians have bounced back in style this season, outplaying New Zealand inside four days in a lop-sided opening Test, on a turning track in Hyderabad.
Thoroughly outplayed, the Kiwis are hoping to find a way to counter the Indian spinners in the second Test, which is expected to be affected by the inclement weather that's prevailing in Bangalore over the past few days.
India will look towards Ashwin, Ojha to sweep series
Though Chinnaswamy curator Narayan Raju talked about a tinge of grass available on the pitch, the New Zealand think-tank doesn't hope for spin respite.
They expect the groundsmen to shave the pitch off and make sure it is dry.
The inability of the New Zealand batsmen to handle spin was exposed in Hyderabad, where 18 of their 20 wickets fell to tweakers.
With off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin taking 12 wickets and left-armer Pragyan Ojha grabbing six, India underlined their supremacy on home soil by winning the first Test convincingly.
India will again look towards the spin duo to sweep the short series.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is aware of the role the spin duo played in India's victory in the last home Test series against the West Indies in November 2011 during which they shared 42 wickets in three matches.
Ross Taylor has a task at hand
Among the few positives for the Kiwis, Kane Williamson scored 32 and 52 in the first Test, while opener Brendon McCullum managed 42 in an innings of uncharacteristic restraint in the second dig.
But more is required from the Black Caps, who showed a distinct lack of application and patience in the opening match.
Martin Guptill and McCullum will be looking to give a solid platform to the visitors which is crucial for them to make a battle of it against the formidable Indians.
Skipper Ross Taylor, who hasn't had a productive last two series, will also be looking to step up to the task without further ado.
While the Kiwi batsmen are sweating it out at the nets asking their spinners to bowl at them, their seamers are praying for a blanket of moisture than a dry surface for them to exploit the conditions.
The weathermen predict that for the next five days Bangalore will witness scattered thunderstorms which may affect the match. Temperatures will remain high at 26 degree Celsius and low at 20 degree Celsius each day.
Pujara, Kohli ready to make headlines again
With youngsters Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli making headlines in the absence of batting greats VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid, the spotlight will also be on the older generation of batsmen, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.
Tendulkar has been working hard on his defence in the nets, while Sehwag went after strokes to get himself in right frame of mind.
Tendulkar's concern probably springs from his nature of dismissals. He was out 22 times, either bowled or leg before wicket.
Pujara's form ahead of tougher assignments against England and Australia augurs well for India. The Saurashtra batsman hit a maiden Test century (159) in Hyderabad to help the side post a big total.
The Indians start favourites by quite a few miles but the famous Kiwi resilience to punch above their weight cannot be ignored either.
India (from): Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Subramaniam Badrinath, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Pragyan Ojha, Umesh Yadav, Ajinkya Rahane, Piyush Chawla, Ishant Sharma, Suresh Raina.
New Zealand (from): Ross Taylor (captain), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Daniel Flynn, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Chris Martin, Brendon McCullum, Tarun Nethula, Jeetan Patel, Tim Southee, Kruger van Wyk, Neil Wagner, Bradley-John Watling, Kane Williamson.
Match starts at 0930 IST