India are set to play New Zealand in the first Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on 21 February. With Rohit Sharma out of the Test series, skipper Virat Kohli had a decision to make about who would partner Mayank Agarwal at the top of the order.
Kohli had two options in Shubman Gill and Prithvi Shaw to choose from. While Shaw had scored a Test century against West Indies on debut, Gill has been in excellent form of late, having scored a double century and a century against New Zealand A.
But Kohli seems to be backing Shaw, expressing his support towards the 20-year-old playing his natural game.
"Prithvi is a talented player and he has his own game and we want him to follow his instincts and play the way he does. Look, these guys have no baggage and are not desperate to perform in any manner," Kohli said ahead of the first Test.
India had been dealt another injury scare when Ishant Sharma suffered a tear in his ankle during a Ranji Trophy game six weeks ago. But he has recovered in time and is now available for selection for the first Test.
While many believed that it might be too soon to get Ishant straight into the playing XI, Kohli feels that the right-arm pacer's experience would be extremely crucial to their chances of having a positive result.
"He (Ishant) looked pretty normal and pretty similar to what he was bowling before the ankle injury. He is hitting good areas again and he has played (Test cricket) in New Zealand couple of times, so his experience will be useful to us. It was really good to see him bowling with pace and in good areas," Kohli asserted.
It will be interesting to see India's team combination on the morning of 21 February as they take on the challenge of beating New Zealand in their own den.