1st Test: 21st February - 25th February in Wellington
2nd Test: 29th February - 4th March in Christchurch
Being the No. 1 Test team in the world, India will definitely try to win this series and re-assert their dominance. However, New Zealand is a very difficult team to beat at home, and it will not be easy going for Virat Kohli's men.
India are going into this important Test series with a full strength team. The 16-member squad that India have selected is as follows.
Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Ishant Sharma.
Also see – Indian Premier League 2020 schedule
The squad consists of all the big names and looks very strong on paper, with a good mixture of youth and experience. The inclusion of talented youngsters like Shaw, Gill, Vihari, Pant and Saini has made the fight for the spots in the final playing XI very interesting.
One spot for which there is a strong battle is the wicketkeeper-batsman's spot. The two contenders for this spot are Saha and Pant. Both these players are of the very highest quality, and it will be a difficult task for the team management to choose only one of them.
If the management decides to choose the better keeper, then Saha is likely to get the nod ahead of Pant, as he is undoubtedly one of the best gloves-men in the world at present. His keeping skills are unparalleled, and his ability to take unbelievable catches makes him an important asset to the team.
But Saha's batting skills, specially in overseas conditions, are not beyond doubt. He has often struggled to score enough runs in bowling-friendly conditions outside India.
If the team management wants to play it safe and choose a keeper who is a better batsman, then Pant would be the man. The 22-year-old scored a quickfire 70 in the practice match against New Zealand XI and showed that he is up for the challenge, if given an opportunity.
Pant lost his place in the Test team recently, after a brief run of poor scores with the bat, and hence will be eager to regain his place in the playing XI.
The team management has not yet given any clear signal about their preferred choice for the wicketkeeper's spot, so the fans will have to wait till match-day to find out who will don the gloves in this Test series.
That said, given the expected nature of the pitch and the importance of taking early wickets and sharp catches, Saha might have an edge. He is more reliable behind the stumps, and India wouldn't want to let any chance go begging - especially if the conditions are bowler-friendly.Published 19 Feb 2020, 22:35 IST