KANPUR: The 500th Test is an avalanche of memoirs and celebration of how the BCCI fought tooth and nail to ascension. But did the Indian cricket team have the same escalation? The domino effect fluctuated over the years. The boys’ delicate show against a visiting New Zealand team on the first day of the rubber in the milestone Test here at Green Park confirmed the thought.

Cricket is more about generations of the greatest cricketers at their best. The legacy, as seen, is usually continued; barring exceptions with impoverished nations like West Indies whose players are easily lured into lucrative Twenty20 leagues.

Nonetheless, talking about the report card of Team India, it had its own variations. If they won the World Cup under MS Dhoni and attained the No 1 rankings in Tests, they also lost back-to-back series in England and Australia under the same skipper.

There is no doubt about their strength as a side but of late, the pack failed to deliver in crucial assignments — the home series against a tough England side (which had Kevin Pietersen) in 2012 to the semi-final ouster in ICC World Twenty20 earlier this year where they lost to West Indies in the last over. The virus called inconsistency has been a bug in the squabble. But in today’s times, there is no room for a dip.

The ongoing Test is the start of a long season — 13 Test matches in less than six months. Weather, pitch and the overall conditions do not possibly pose a threat to foreign teams anymore, thanks to IPL.

KL Rahul (32) — who upped his ante in leaps and bounds in the recent outings, including a ton against West Indies in a T20 match — became the first victim of Mitchell Santner, the modern-day Daniel Vettori. The slow left-arm bowler kept troubling the Indian batsmen, apparently masters of spin, in their own backyard. Skipper and star player Virat Kohli (9) didn’t last longer too, Neil Wagner sorted him out easily. Murali Vijay (65) and Cheteshwar Pujara (62) steadied the innings but when 400 looked gettable, they limped to 318 all out.

During the bikini-format of the World Cup, Santner and Ish Sodhi (leg-break) demonstrated the trailer. They ran through the star-studded Indian batting line-up; wrapped them within 79 to pocket the match by 47 runs. Hence, their effort today is not a surprise. It had to happen, now or later.

But it isn’t the first time the Indian batsmen are dancing to foreign spin. The England cricket team did their homework diligently before taking MS Dhoni’s troop for a ride four years ago, the trump cards being Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann. England won the series 2-1.

South Africa succumbed to the cyclone tracks last season but overall, international teams (on Indian soil) are doing better than before. However, India coach Anil Kumble doesn’t see it as a threat.

“They (New Zealand) always did well both at home and on tours. I have watched their spinners in the ICC World Twenty20 who helped them progress in the tournament. It is good to see spinners playing a major role among foreign teams. The Kiwis have an all-round variation with a left-arm spinner, leg-spinner and an off-spinner — not usually seen in a foreign team,” said Kumble, who is renowned for taking a ten-for in a single innings of a Test against Pakistan during his heydays.

Due to the increase in the quantum of cricket being played over the world with a string of Twenty20 leagues, it is no more about home team advantage.

“Conditions are no longer alien for any foreign team. The home team certainly has an edge having grown in these conditions. Today, it is all about the quality of cricket one can put across the path. Since most of the New Zealand cricketers have played IPL, they know how to exploit the conditions,” he added.

Kumble, however, refuses to accept that the team doesn’t have enough potential. “We did well in West Indies and this team has a lot of bonhomie and camaraderie,” said Kumble, under whose mentorship India thrashed the Carribbeans 2-0 in a four-Test series.

“We will keep track of our preparations. As the series goes on, there will be less time spent. This is like the second summer in India, we need to be aware of the workload. It is a great milestone, to have a legacy of 500 Test matches from 1932 to today. Every Indian team who went to the park have looked to raise the bar,” said Kumble.

This, perhaps, is the best opportunity for India to up their game and bounce back as the team-to-beat. England will arrive after New Zealand and early next year, the mighty Aussies will land to revive the rivalry. Can it get better?