After their disappointing loss in the ODI series, the Indian team is all geared up to take on the Kiwis in a 2 match Test series, starting from 21st of February, 2020. The schedule for these two New Zealand vs India test matches are as follows.
1st Test: 21st February - 25th February in Wellington
2nd Test: 29th February - 4th March in Christchurch
India's performance in Test matches in New Zealand is not that impressive. As the number 1 Test team in the world they would definitely try and improve their record and win this series. However the New Zealand team is a very strong unit, specially in their home conditions and it will not be an easy task for the Indian team to beat them on their home turf.
India has selected a full strength squad for this important test series.The 16-member squad that India has selected for this series, is as follows.
Virat Kohli (Captain), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain),Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Mohd. Shami, Navdeep Saini, Ishant Sharma.
India will be missing the services of Rohit Sharma because of injury. However it will open the door for youngsters like Prithwi Shaw and Shubman Gill. In the 3-day warm-up match against New Zealand XI, India tried to solve their selection dilemma by trying out their youngsters like Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Hanuma Vihari and Rishabh Pant. Some of them like Prithvi Shaw, and Shubman Gill failed to get going while others like Hanuma Vihari and Rishabh Pant scored runs and raised their chances of getting selected in the playing XI.
In this article we try and predict what could be India's playing XI in the upcoming Test series
Openers | Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal
Mayank Agarwal, who had an excellent start to his his Test match career in 2019, will be an automatic choice for the opener's slot. He had brief bad patch recently, which he ended by scoring a classy 81 in the practice match.
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However in absence Rohit Sharma, the second opener's slot is vacant. India has 2 options for this slot - Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill. Both these players have the potential to be future greats. Choosing only one of them will be a difficult task for the team management. However Shaw is likely to get the nod ahead of Gill, because of his previous experience of opening in Test cricket and scoring more runs than Gill in the recently concluded practice match.
Middle Order | Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari
The positions in the Indian middle order are more or less sealed. In overseas conditions, Cheteswar Pujara is an automatic choice for the number 3 position, because of his sound technique and ability to occupy the crease for long periods of time.
The number 4 position belongs to the Indian captain Virat Kohli. He would be keen to score big hundreds in the Test series, after missing out in the ODIs.
The Indian vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane will come out to bat at number 5. After going through a prolonged bad patch with the bat, Rahane regained his lost form in 2019 and thus cemented his place in the middle order. At number six, India will most probably choose to play a specialist batsman, in the bowling friendly New Zealand wickets. As a result Hanuma Vihari is likely to get his place back in the batting order at number 6.
Wicket-keeper | Wriddhiman Saha
Wriddhiman Saha will most probably be chosen as the wicket keeper batsman ahead of Rishabh Pant, although Pant scored a quickfire 70 in the practice match. Saha's keeping skills are unparalleled. As a result, the team management considers him to be an important asset for the Indian side.However Saha's batting skills, specially in overseas conditions, are not beyond doubt. He has to consistently score runs with the bat also, in order to hold on to his place in the playing XI, ahead of Pant.
All-rounder | Ravindra Jadeja
Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin, two of India's greatest spin bowling allrounders, will be competing for the spot of spinner-allrounder in the playing XI. Although Ashwin has a better Test match record than Jadeja, but considering Jadeja's recent form with both bat and ball in all forms of the game, he is more likely to get the nod ahead of Ashwin.
Bowlers | Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav
The Indian pace attack will be led the experienced duo of Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah will be making a comeback after his injury layoff in the last season. Although Ishant Sharma was declared fit, but Umesh Yadav is most likely to get the nod for the third pacer's spot ahead of him, as it might be risky to select him immediately after an ankle injury.
The performance of the Indian pacers have been excellent in the last 3-4 years. The team management will hope that this experienced pace trio will continue their good show with the ball, and help India win the Test series in New Zealand.
Published 19 Feb 2020, 09:28 IST