In what is billed to be India's toughest challenge thus far in the ICC World Test Championship, Virat Kohli and company will face New Zealand away from home in a two-match Test series. Both sides competed in the limited overs formats where India whitewashed the Kiwis 5-0 in the T20I series before getting whitewashed by Kane Williamson's side in the three-match ODI series.
The Test series will decide the winner of this tour and as it is a short series, it will be key for both teams to get off to a strong start. A win in the first Test will guarantee that the team will not lose the series which shows how important the Wellington Test is. Besides, the winner of the game will also earn 60 points in the ICC World Test Championship. Thus, all the players will look forward to bringing their 'A' game to the table.
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While a lot of stars will be in action during the series, here are three players who everyone will have their eyes on in the first Test.
#3 Henry Nicholls
One of the major reasons why New Zealand were able to reverse their fortunes in the ODI series was the magnificent form of Henry Nicholls. The left-handed batsman provided solid starts to the team in all the games. He even won the Man of the Match award in the final ODI.
Although he may not open the innings for the home team in the Test series, he will play a marquee role for them in the middle order. Nicholls will look to replicate his performance from the ODI series.
#2 Colin de Grandhomme
Medium pace-bowling all-rounder, Colin de Grandhomme single-handedly changed the course of the third ODI match between New Zealand and India. His whirlwind knock took his team home, but he will have a different role in the Test matches. While he will continue to play the role of a finisher in the batting department, the swinging conditions will also tempt Kane Williamson to use his services in the bowling attack.
The matches will start early in the day hence, De Grandhomme will get more assistance from the pitch and he has an economy rate of just 2.47 in Test cricket. This shows that the Indian batsmen will find it extremely difficult to attack him.
#1 Mohammed Shami
India's right-arm pacer, Mohammed Shami will enjoy bowling against the Kiwis in this Test because the conditions are tailor-made for him. His improved bowling action helps him make more impact in red-ball cricket which is why Shami can emerge as the match-winner for India in this Test match.
He showcased his skills in the warm-up match ahead of the Test series and there is no reason why Shami can even better those numbers when he takes field against New Zealand in Wellington.