Important to adapt to spin - Williamson
The last time New Zealand played a World T20 game, they crashed to 60 all out against Sri Lanka. Since that horror day in Chittagong, New Zealand are yet to play any match, in any format, in the subcontinent. In the two years since that nightmare against Rangana Herath, New Zealand have grown immeasurably in terms of confidence and experience, but their personnel remains largely the same, and their ability in spin-friendly conditions remains untested.
Kane Williamson is New Zealand's best player of spin, as he showed in that game by scoring 70% of their total, but seldom adds any spin to his public pronouncements. They are almost deliberately bland. On the eve of his side's World T20 opener against India, he dead-batted every question thrown at him.
"Yeah, whenever you play around the world, you need to adapt to different conditions," Williamson said, when asked about New Zealand's preparedness for Indian conditions. "We have been playing a bit of cricket at home, it is important that we make those adjustments coming into this tournament. We have had some good preparations in the UAE and in Mumbai as well. But at the same time, whichever ground you play around India, the conditions can be slightly different so we have to assess those again tomorrow."
Having watched some of the the first-round action from the ground, Williamson expected a slow turner at the VCA Stadium.
"We certainly are expecting spin to pay a big part in this tournament," he said. "I suppose, judging by the warm-up games in Mumbai, they had a bit for the seamers and it swung a little bit. They were very good surfaces but from what cricket we have seen here in Nagpur, spin looks likely to play a big part. It's important that we adjust our game plans accordingly."
Williamson is leading the side following the retirement of Brendon McCullum, who perhaps surprisingly chose to quit international cricket following the home series against Australia even though the World T20 was only a few weeks. Williamson refused to divulge his views on the timing of McCullum's exit.
"I suppose we were certainly fortunate to have Brendon leading us and being in the side for as long as we had him and I guess, in a way, there is no great time for him to walk away with all the good that he is doing," Williamson said. "But it's part and parcel of anything you do that it comes to an end and there's so many other priorities in Brendon's life and we certainly wish Brendon well. He is very close to this side still and he has got a little bit of cricket left to play in some of the T20 competitions around the world, which is exciting for him, but I know he will be watching us closely."
New Zealand will be playing for the first time since the death of Martin Crowe, their greatest ever batsman and a mentor to Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill. Williamson said the team would wear black armbands and observe a minute's silence before Tuesday's match.
"In the match tomorrow, we will be showing our respects by wearing black armbands and I believe after the anthems, there will be a moment where there will be a pause, so that will be a special time of recognition on behalf of the side," he said. "Some blokes in the side, they were very close to Martin, and I guess they will deal with it in their own way throughout the tournament and throughout the cricket that is coming up. He was a big part of their lives as a cricketer and as a person. It's just the process that you get through when something significant like this happens."
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo