Despite a flaccid pitch and the two teams being far from full strength, the first Test between India and New Zealand was an enthralling encounter that went until the final hour of Day 5. Things are only expected to get more competitive in Mumbai, which will host the second and final Test starting Friday, December 3.
India lost out on eight valuable World Test Championship points in Kanpur. With an over rate penalty having hit them already, the hosts will be keen to maximize the home Tests at their disposal.
India’s squad for the second Test vs New Zealand: Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara (vice-captain), Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), KS Bharat (wicket-keeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna
Here are three changes India should make for the second Test against New Zealand.
#3 Mohammed Siraj for Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma endured a difficult outing in Kanpur and ended the Test as the only Indian bowler to go wicketless. Apart from a dislocated finger, the pacer suffered from an inability to extract swing and lateral movement at a time when Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson grabbed wickets by the bagful.
Ishant's spell improved in the second innings, but he lacked penetration throughout his involvement in the first Test. Mohammed Siraj, who has made an impressive start to his Test career for India, could be the man to enter the fray in Mumbai. Siraj suffered a split webbing during the T20I series but he should have recovered now and will add some much-needed pace and aggression instead of Ishant.
#2 KS Bharat for Wriddhiman Saha
Wriddhiman Saha essayed a calm fifty in the second innings of the first Test that helped India put themselves in a dominant position, but it might be time for the team to try out new options.
Barring his fifty, Saha has done nothing of note with the bat for a few years now. His replacement KS Bharat, who got the opportunity to don the gloves as Saha suffered from a stiff neck, put up an excellent wicket-keeping show on a challenging Kanpur wicket.
Saha is now 37 years old and has had a variety of injuries to deal with recently. A rest might also serve him well, with Bharat deserving of a chance in the playing XI after spending years on the fringes of the Indian Test side.
#1 Virat Kohli for Ajinkya Rahane
India's Test captain returns to the fold for the second Test, and who he replaces has been a hot topic of discussion. Unfortunately, there is only one right answer - Ajinkya Rahane.
With Mayank Agarwal and Shubman Gill being the only two openers in the squad, neither can be dropped. Moreover, it would be unfair on the one who is dropped since Mayank has an exceptional home record and Gill notched up a fifty in the Kanpur Test.
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Rahane, whose form has been abysmal for years now, must finally face the sack. Rahul Dravid and Vikram Rathour have already thrown their weight behind Rahane, but with Shreyas Iyer walking away with the Player of the Match award on debut, India have no choice but to bench their vice-captain.
Q. Will Kohli and Dravid make the brave call of dropping Ajinkya Rahane?
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