New Zealand's fears about facing a spinners delight in this week's first test against India may be misplaced - but only slightly.

The tourists' are aware spin, as always, will play a significant part in the three-test series, starting in Kanpur Thursday night.

However the groundsman at the Green Park ground has moved to play down worries that New Zealand might be greeted by an old style 'bunsen burner' of a pitch, that is one which offers significant turn from day one.

In tests against South Africa at both Nagpur and Mohali last season, the ball spun alarmingly and India won both tests inside three days. The highest of the eight totals was 215. India's spinners took 39 of the 40 South African wickets.


The tall offspinner Ravi Ashwin snared 20 of them and he shapes as the largest thorn in New Zealand's side in this series.

Kanpur's groundsman Shiv Kumar is optimistic there won't be a repeat of those surfaces and expects the pitch will play better than anticipated, playing down the fact cracks were visible three days before the start.

There are three reasons for his confidence: the surface is hard and the cracks aren't loose; the binding qualities of the Kanpur soil evidently make it unlikely to break up; and the pitch is being watered consistently to aid the process of keeping the soil intact.

Some rain is forecast, which would help the seamers, who otherwise will be there to remove the shine, although Neil Wagner's reverse swinging talents should be useful on a dry pitch.

Kumar expects good batting conditions for the first two days, then the pitch will start to take turn, albeit slowly. Which adds up to a recipe of winning the toss and batting.

New Zealand will be pondering their spin options, but may take the view that a third spinner could be a luxury which they can't afford in order to keep the team balance right.

One player has been ruled out, allrounder Jimmy Neesham, who has a sore rib, suffered when he was hit in the nets last week.

It cut back his involvement in the one warmup game in New Delhi. But he should be fit for the second test in Kolkata.

New Zealand's coaches have drummed in the need for the batsmen to be positive during the tests. The message has been spelled out that the ball will be moving all the time, whether with conventional or reverse swing or spin.

''We've talked a lot about where they're going to hit the ball," batting coach Craig McMillan said.

''We've really focussed on scoring, not being defensive, because sooner or later, if you're stuck at an end for a length of time one (delivery) will have your name on it. To put the pressure back on the bowlers you have to be scoring."

McMillan said batsmen also need to be conscious of ''getting in good, strong positions" when defending, and stressed the need for players to be ready for distinctly Indian batting conditions, with a ring of fielders around the bat and intense pressure on all the time at the crease.

To that end, McMillan has been placing objects in the batsmen's line of sight in the nets, such as a large bag to mimic a close catcher, in a bid to get them attuned for what is coming.

''The reality for us is to put numbers on in terms of first innings totals. If we want to try and get a control of the game we're going to have to bat long periods of time and defence is going to be important."