Facing their first stern challenge of the ICC World Test Championship, Team India will begin their series against New Zealand from 21 February in Wellington. The pace-friendly conditions will likely trouble the Indian team, with the return of Trent Boult and Neil Wagner tilting the scales in the home side's favor.
India will miss the services of Rohit Sharma in this series as the limited overs vice-captain is out with an injury. There are many dilemmas facing the Indian team at the moment, as it is not known who will open the innings for the side.
The team management might even want to include Rishabh Pant in the playing XI after his terrific performance in the warm-up match. Also, the pace bowling combination is yet to be finalized.
So on that note, let us have a look at India's predicted playing XI for the first Test against New Zealand.
Prithvi Shaw should open the innings for India along with Mayank Agarwal, as both the batsmen have more experience of international cricket than Shubman Gill. Cheteshwar Pujara will back the two upcoming stars at number 3.
Skipper Virat Kohli will hold the number 4 position whereas the team's vice-captain, Ajinkya Rahane will bat at number 5. Given that the conditions will test the batsmen, India will look to have an additional batsman in the team and hence Hanuma Vihari may get a nod as well.
Wriddhiman Saha will keep the wickets for the team while Ravindra Jadeja will be the team's spin bowling all-rounder. The trio of Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah should form the pace bowling attack.
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India's Predicted Playing XI for the first Test against New Zealand: Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah: After a disappointing performance in the ODI series, Jasprit Bumrah bowled well in the warm-up match. The Indian fans would expect him to lead the bowling attack from the front as he can get a lot of assistance from the conditions in New Zealand.
Virat Kohli: The Indian captain has managed to win all the matches of the ICC World Test Championship thus far but this series will test him - not only as a batsman but also as a leader. The likes of Kane Williamson, Tom Latham and BJ Watling are known to frustrate the opposition with their solid defense, so Kohli will have to be innovative to get 20 wickets in the match.