Questions India need to address for Tests vs New Zealand

Cricket News: Questions India need to address for Tests vs New Zealand | 4 questions India need to answer ahead of Tests against New Zealand

Team India started the second cycle of the World Test Championship on a positive note as they overcame their toughest challenge in this Test cycle against England. India leads the Test Series versus England at 2-1 with one match left in the series which will be played next year, after a brilliant victory at The Oval.

After completing the England series, India moves back to their comfort zone at home to face their ICC events-spoilers New Zealand in a two-match Test series after a plethora of white-ball cricket.

Both sides will land in Kanpur for the opening Test match, which kicks off on November 25 at the Green Park Stadium. The series will end at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. Given India’s history against New Zealand, their home dominance in red-ball cricket in the last few years and their insane schedule over the past year or so, India has opted to rest their key players.

Virat Kohli is rested for the first Test while Mohammed Shami, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah are going to miss the entire series. This itself suggests that even in the absence of a few senior players, India are confident of doing well in the series against the Black Caps. But there are some questions that the new-look team management needs to address before the start of the series. Here we look at the same in this article:

India vs New Zealand: Key questions for India

1. Who will bat at number four in Virat Kohli’s absence?

Virat Kohli’s unavailability for the first Test definitely leaves a gaping hole at number four. Kohli has cemented that place for himself and his record is terrific, accumulating over 6,000 Test runs at an average of 55.32 in 119 innings in this position.

It is a tough ask for the team management to slot in a player who can do the job for the team as Kohli has done over the years. The Kanpur Test will provide the opportunity for someone like Shreyas Iyer who has played a good amount of first-class cricket. Having scored more than 4,500 runs at an average of over 50 in first-class games, he seems to be the perfect option for the Kanpur Test.

The other option for India is elevating the stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane to number four. He produced a monumental hundred at four in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne when Kohli had to leave the Australian series midway.

2. Who will don the gloves?

Rishabh Pant has been rested from the Test series. Once termed as the number one choice wicket-keeper batsman, Wriddhiman Saha looks most likely to play as the wicket-keeper. Saha is a mighty fine wicket-keeper and has a good record with the bat in home conditions.

However, the team also has uncapped keeper batsman KS Bharat in the squad, who’s been in good form with the bat. Now it’s up to the management whether they go for a superior wicketkeeper in Saha or a superior batsman in Bharat.

3. What will be the bowling attack?

Cricket News: Questions India need to address for Tests vs New Zealand | 4 questions India need to answer ahead of Tests against New Zealand
Umesh Yadav and KL Rahul will be key for India against New Zealand

India will miss the services of lead pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami. These two bowlers have been the leaders of India’s pace bowling unit, but their absence will provide an opportunity for others to make a mark.

Team India have four options in the form of Mohammed Siraj, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav & the uncapped Prasidh Krishna in the squad. Among these, Umesh Yadav has been the most impactful bowler for India in home conditions. His record in India speaks for him; he is expected to be India’s lead bowler in the series. He has the skill to swing both the new and old ball and the same goes with the other two pacers – Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Siraj.

Considering the conditions in India and how the pitches play here, it is highly unlikely that Prasidh Krishna will get to make his Test debut in this series. We believe Mohammed Siraj and Umesh Yadav should start for India with Ravichandran Ashwin & Ravindra Jadeja being the spin bowling options. There will be a toss between Axar Patel and Jayant Yadav for the third spinner’s place.

4. Who will partner KL Rahul at the top?

Since Rohit’s comeback into the Test team, he’s been a force to reckoned with at the top of the order and his record in India is next only to Don Bradman. Rohit’s partner KL Rahul impressed as an opener in the four Tests in England and he’ll definitely play the entirety of the series against New Zealand.

But, who partners him is still a big question. Mayank Agarwal is back in the Test fold and so is Shubman Gill; of these two, only one will open with Rahul. Before the emergence of Gill in Australia, Mayank was India’s first choice for opening the innings. But, a form slump saw him sit out of the playing XI and opened the gates for Gill.

Shubman also played the WTC final against New Zealand and was then ruled out of the England Test series with an unfortunate injury. Thus, he’s most likely to retain his place at the top which he never lost.

Written bVaibhav Tripathi. Follow Vaibhav on Twitter today.

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