The stage is all set for the commencement of the two-match Test series between India and New Zealand. It is the second series for Team India in the second cycle of the World Test Championship (WTC).
New Zealand will be beginning their WTC title defense with this tough away series against a formidable Indian side. New Zealand defeated Team India in the WTC final in June earlier this year. The home team will be looking to even things with their opponents by comprehensively winning this series.
Talented Mumbai batter Shreyas Iyer will make his debut in the first match. He will bat in the middle-order as there is a vacant spot due to Virat Kohli's absence. Kohli will join the team in the second match. Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarawal will be the incumbent opening pair for the home side in this series.
Team India's batting line-up, barring Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, looks highly inexperienced.
However, the bowling department looks formidable. It has the presence of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, and Ishant Sharma. Due to this, Team India will start the series as favorites.
Even history is with the home side. Team India and New Zealand have squared off in 34 Test matches in India. The Kiwi team has won only two of those Test matches while Team India managed to emerge victorious in 16 contests. The remaining 16 games ended in a draw.
November (24 - 29) 1988: John Wright-led New Zealand side defeated India in a Test match in Mumbai
Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai was the venue for New Zealand's last Test match victory against Team India in India. It was the second Test match of the three-match series during New Zealand's tour of India in 1988.
New Zealand skipper John Wright won the toss and elected to bat first in the contest. Ravi Shastri (4/45), Narendra Hirwani (3/82), and Kapil Dev (2/48) performed well with the ball and restricted the visitors to 236 in the first innings.
Legendary bowler Richard Hadlee (6/49) wreaked havoc with the ball, which meant Team India could only manage 234 in their first innings. Opener Kris Srikkanth (94) waged a lone battle but did not receive much support from other batters.
New Zealand then scored 279 runs in their second innings and set a target of 282 in front of the hosts. John Bracewell (6/51) and Richard Hadlee (4/39) were too hot to handle for Team India's batters in the final innings of the match.
The duo shared all 10 wickets between them and bundled out India for 145. New Zealand won the match by a 136 run margin in the end.
The Kiwis have not won another Test match in India in the last 33 years. It will be interesting to see if they can end the streak during the upcoming series.