Former Indian cricketer Aakash Chopra has pointed out that New Zealand made a mistake by leaving out left-arm pacer Neil Wagner for the second Test against India in Mumbai.
Prior to the encounter, there was a lot of hype floating around regarding the inclusion of Wagner for the second Test. However, with skipper Kane Williamson forced to miss out due to injury, the visitors surprisingly named an unchanged bowling unit from the Kanpur Test.
On a bouncy Wankhede surface, no bowler barring Ajaz Patel had a successful outing against the Indian batters. The left-arm spinner was the only Kiwi bowler to build up pressure and somewhat kept the hosts at bay.
While reviewing the first day of play, Aakash Chopra posted a video on his official YouTube channel. You can watch his preview below:
The former Indian opener criticized the Kiwis' decision of not including Neil Wagner in the playing XI and opined that it was a mistake. While questioning the abilities of William Somerville and Rachin Ravindra as bowlers, Chopra said:
"Why no Wagner? You're not playing Somerville as a batter, right? Because if you bowl with Somerville, the Indian batters will smash him all round the corner. Rachin Ravindra is a part-timer. Ajaz Patel was the only bowler to put pressure on the Indians. Not including Wagner was a mistake in my opinion."
The 44-year old also highlighted how crucial the left-arm pacer would have performed on a bouncy track in Mumbai. While not being overly impressed by Tom Latham's captaincy, Chopra said:
"Niel Wagner - perhaps it was a no-brainer in the previous game itself. Out of the 17 wickets that India lost in the previous game, 14 of them were taken by pacers. They had to play Wagner on a bouncy Mumbai pitch. There's sideways movement, swing and pace on Wankhede. Captaincy was 50-50 for me with regards to team selection and even with bowling changes."
Ajaz Patel was the lone wicket-taker for the visitors on Friday as the other bowlers were unable to mount Indian batters with difficulties. There's no doubt that New Zealand missed a player of Neil Wagner's caliber.
"Among all the Indian batters, he has been playing spin the best" - Chopra lauds Mayank Agarwal
The former cricketer-turned-expert praised centurion Mayank Agarwal, especially for playing the spin really well. Chopra claimed that among the current lot of Indian batters, the Karnataka-born batter has been tackling the spinners best.
Still unbeaten on 120*, Agarwal rescued India with his counter-attacking approach and stroke-making. While addressing the speculation that Mayank Agarwal might get dropped in order to accommodate Kohli into the side, Chopra stated:
"Mayank told everyone with his ton that 'Main hoo Na' (I am here). He has now scored four tons, all of which have come to India. However, the importance of this one is immense because prior to this game we all were discussing that Mayank would be the scapegoat and would be dropped. He played spin really well. In fact, among all the Indian batters, he has been playing spin the best."
India did well to end the day on a strong note (221/4) with Wriddhiman Saha (25*) putting on a half-century stand with Mayank Agarwal (120*).