India vs New Zealand, 2nd Test Preview: As Virat Kohli returns, India look to be assertive against gritty New Zealand
Mumbai is facing unseasonal rains, but the weather is expected to get better by the time the Test match begins.
Despite the return of Virat Kohli, India will still try to fit in both Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in the playing XI as New Zealand are all set to bring in Neil Wagner.
Both teams would rue Kanpur draw
It took a special effort from New Zealand to save the test match in Kanpur. At the same time, it can also be said that they were on top of India at several points during the match -- a feat not many teams have been able to achieve and had an opportunity to push for victory after lunch on day 5. But, they were not brave enough to take that chance.
For India as well, while there is a consideration that they were half an hour late in declaration, given that New Zealand were in a winning position at points on the last day, it justified the time that India deliberately took out of the game.
Mumbai offers pace and bounce
Moving to Mumbai now, the conditions will be totally different. From the low and slow Kanpur pitch to the red soil surface in Mumbai offering ample pace and bounce.
But, given that pace bowling is the strength of the New Zealand side, rest assured that India will roll out a surface that will assist the spinners, thus maintaining their 3-2 spin-pace combination and not allowing the New Zealand quicks to get in the game too much.
Somerville or Ravindra to make way for Wagner
Be that as it may, New Zealand are almost certain to bring in Neil Wagner in the playing XI, particularly after the way in which Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee performed in the Kanpur test match.
With Ajaz Patel being New Zealand's leading spinner, one out of Will Somerville and Rachin Ravindra will have to sit out -- quite unfortunate, given the manner in which both the players performed.
Although Ravindra played an instrumental part in saving the Kanpur test match, he looks like the candidate to be benched. Will Somerville provides an off spin option which goes well with the left arm spinner Ajaz Patel to provide variation in their attack.
At the same time, Somerville showed that he too can bat for long durations and New Zealand won't lose too much on batting ability while replacing Wagner with Ravindra.
Another chance for Rahane and Pujara?
India have a couple of decisions to make regarding their playing XI. With all four of Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shreyas Iyer and Virat Kohli available, it will be interesting to see who sits out.
However, given that the South Africa tour is coming up, it may not be a wise decision to drop either Pujara or Rahane. Both have not scored big for a long time but have played some crucial knocks and are beginning to get their touch back.
Tough on Mayank, Siraj
Mayank Agrawal seems to be the unfortunate guy on whom the axe will fall. With Wriddhiman Saha carrying a stiff neck, KS Bharat might replace him in the playing XI and accompany Shubman Gill to open the batting for India, which will be a stopgap measure with KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma returning for the South Africa series.
In the bowling department, the team is likely to continue with their spin bowling trio of Axar Patel, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin. Indian bowling coach Paras Mhambrey backed Ishant Sharma to come good with more game time and that might keep Mohammed Siraj on the bench.
Predicted playing XIs
India - Shubman Gill, KS Bharat (wk), Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajijkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravinchandran Ashiwn, Axar Patel, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj/Ishant Sharma
New Zealand - Tom Latham, Will Young, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Tom Blundell (wk), Kyle Jamieson, Will Somerville, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel
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