The first India vs New Zealand Test in Kanpur ended in a draw. The last batting pair for New Zealand hung on for nearly seven overs as bad light forced the umpires to take the players off 10 minutes before the scheduled close of play.
New Zealand had to put in all their might as Rachin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel saw off the final 52 balls in an unbroken last-wicket stand to draw the match. It was a perfect Test match on a surface that was slow and sluggish, and the batters and bowlers had to go through the extra grind to elicit any response. It was a fair result in the end and now, as India and New Zealand head across to Mumbai, they will need to rejig and reassess their strategies.
India need to go back to the drawing board and iron out the few flaws that crept into their game in Kanpur.
Here we take a look at the 3 areas of concern for India heading into the Test match:
1.) The opening conundrum
In both innings, India's openers never got going and the side did not get any platform against the new ball. Mayank Agarwal and Shubman Gill struggled in both innings respectively and this is one of the biggest causes of concern for India.
We could look at a rejig in Mumbai as Virat Kohli returns to the side and Mayank Agarwal looks the likely candidate to make way for the captain. This could well mean Cheteshwar Pujara could be bumped up the order to open the innings. Pujara has not been in the best of form in the recent past and this innings could help him hit his stride.
2.) The form of Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma did not have the best of matches in Kanpur and he looked cooked in both innings. Ishant bowled 15 overs in the first innings, gave away 35 runs and was unable to take any wickets. In the second innings, he bowled seven overs and had to leave the field with an injured finger.
After 105 Test matches, Ishant could well have played his final game in Kanpur as India could opt for Mohammed Siraj in Mumbai. With Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah out for the series, this could be a chance for the selectors to try Siraj in home conditions, especially in Mumbai where there will be more on offer for the bowlers.
3.) What is up with Ajinkya Rahane?
Ajinkya Rahane has been struggling for a long time now. After his struggles in Kanpur, he averages 24.39 in his last 16 Tests and this includes a century in the Boxing Day Test nearly a year ago.
In Kanpur, he had scores of 35 and 4 and his overall average in Tests has dipped below 40. In India, he averages 35.73 and has generally struggled in sluggish conditions.
However, the Indian management still backs him and head coach Rahul Dravid believes he is just one score away from hitting his stride.
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"He is one of those guys who has that quality. He has the experience. Hopefully it's just a matter of an innings, a matter of a game where he can turn it around. He would certainly like to score more runs. He knows that. And we know that," Dravid said at the post-match press conference.