New Zealand coach Mike Hesson has said that bowling Zimbabwe out twice on what is expected to be a slow and low Bulawayo surface will be a challenge ahead of his side's two-Test tour. Hesson stated that both batsmen and bowlers would have to show patience to get the better of the home team.

"In Bulawayo, we are expecting something that's going to be slow and not a heck of a lot of bounce, so taking 20 wickets will be a challenge," Hesson said after the team's arrival in Harare, where they are currently playing a three-day warm-up match before heading to Bulawayo. "Zimbabwe's bowling attack is very disciplined, so from a batting point of view, it's about committing to your plans over a long period of time."

With little assistance for seamers and spinners, and scoring rates likely to be curbed as well, frustration may prove to be the most effective wicket-taker in the series. But New Zealand have several other options - an attack that will be led by Tim Southee and Doug Bracewell, has Neil Wagner and Matt Henry backing up, and includes spin options as well. With an offspinner in Mark Craig and two legspinners in their arsenal - Ish Sodhi and the uncapped Jeet Raval - New Zealand will aim to exploit Zimbabwe's vulnerability against turn, as they did when the two sides met five years ago.

That match, which New Zealand won by 34 runs, saw them field two spinners - Daniel Vettori and Jeetan Patel - and Vettori claimed eight wickets. Hesson remembers the fixture more for Zimbabwe's fight than Vettori's Man-of-the-Match-winning performance, and expects the same from them this time. "The last time we played a Test match in Bulawayo, it went down to the last session on the last day, so we are certainly expecting a tough series," Hesson said.

However, things may not pan out as Hesson expects, as since that day, New Zealand have played 43 Tests and won 14, including series wins over West Indies, India and Sri Lanka. Zimbabwe, on the other hand, have played just 11 Tests, won two and have not been back to Bulawayo at all. While they will still be more familiar with the conditions, Zimbabwe do not have the kind of home advantage that teams who play more regularly hold.

In fact, given that New Zealand have been at a training camp in Pretoria for the last 10 days, the tourists may feel fairly well-versed in southern African winter conditions. "We trained at the Tuks University and it was a good chance for us to get used to conditions that we are likely to face here," Hesson said.

Zimbabwe's ace could be the element of surprise in their personnel. Only four in their current squad played in the 2011 Test against New Zealand: Tino Mawoyo, Hamilton Masakadza, Regis Chakabva and Njabulo Ncube. A further four - Prince Masvaure, Chamu Chibhabha, Peter Moor and Taurai Muzarabani - are uncapped at the Test level. New Zealand will not be able to do any homework on the rookies because they have not been included in the warm-up match either, and will have to rely on their ability to react to the competition they are faced with on game day.

That, and a stubborn surface, has prompted Hesson to urge his charges not to take Zimbabwe lightly as they open their African adventure. "Some of the Zimbabwe players we don't know very well, we don't have a lot of footage of them, so we are going to have to deal with that when we arrive. But we certainly won't be underestimating Zimbabwe in their own conditions."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent