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After close to three months of intense T20 action, Cricket is back with its most aesthetic and traditional form as the World Test Championship 2021 finalists, India and New Zealand are set to lock horns in a two-match Test series, starting this Thursday.

The first Test is set to be hosted in what is considered to be the Indian fortress, yes, none other than the Green Park venue in Kanpur, where the Indians are yet to taste defeat in the last 38 years. Can the WTC champions breach the fortress?

The last time the sides met in the longest format was back in 2020 in New Zealand, where the Indians were completely outplayed by the Kiwis to win the 2-match series, 2-0. However, the proceedings would not be as easy this time India have turned to be an impeccable force at home. 

The last time the Kiwis managed to defeat India at home was way back in 1989 and it would require a colossal effort by the Kiwi side if they are to overhaul the Indians. The teams are ranked No.1 and 2 in the ICC Test rankings as of now a 2-0 win for the Indians could see them replace the Blackcaps from the top.

India will be without the services of their key players, which include, the Indian skipper Virat Kohli, opener Rohit Sharma and frontline bowlers Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. Can the Indian side extend the defeatless streak against Kiwis at home? Or will Kane Williamson and Co. create history at Green Park?

Match Toss Time: 09:00 Local (03:30 GMT)

Match Start Time: 09:30 Local (04:00 GMT)

Match Venue: Green Park, Kanpur

Head to Head

Matches played: 60, India: 21, New Zealand: 13, Draw: 26

Weather conditions and pitch

Team News

The hosts are missing the big names including their skipper Virat Kohli. The decision to leave out the highest run-getter in this calendar year for India, Rohit Sharma looks a bit strange given the essence this encounter holds.

The absence of Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah does give the younger lads an opportunity, but will they be able to handle the heat of the champions?

For the Kiwis it's good news as their skipper Kane Willaimson is set to be back on duty. The ruling out of Devon Conway means that Henry Nicholls is likely to take up that position.

All-rounder Daryl Mitchell has earned his place in the line-up after his splendid performance in the T20 WC 2021 but his role looks a bit uncertain for now. The 30-year-old may be given the role of the opener or may just be used as a valuable floater.

Probable Playing Xl

India (IND): Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (C), Shreyas Iyer, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Mohammad Siraj, Ishant Sharma

New Zealand (NZ): Tom Latham, Tom Blundell/ Rachin Ravindra, Kane Williamson (C), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Will Young/ Glenn Philips, Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, Kyle Jamieson, Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel

Must-Picks

The Indian all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin is expected to be on the wickets given that the conditions are very much in his favor. Along with him, we expect the Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson to score big as he is inarguably the best player of spin in the New Zealand line-up.

Indian middle-order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara and Kiwi opener Tom Latham are our two must-picks for this upcoming riveting clash.

IND vs NZ Fantasy team

Captain and Vice-captain Picks

Prediction

There is no doubt that the toss will play a very important role in this encounter and as per the data, it is very evident that the team batting last will find the going tough and even a score of around 170 could turn out to be a difficult one to chase down. 

India will be without their key players but they hold a key advantage in the form of the veteran Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja, who make life tough for the opponents under any given circumstances. The onus will be on the Kiwi spinner to perform once again but we feel it could be a tough task to negotiate with the Indian spinners. 

Cricwizz predicts India to win the 1st Test against New Zealand.

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