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A grudge series between India and New Zealand is all set to take place from the 25th of this month as the last time the sides met, India lost to New Zealand in the final of the World Test Championship in England, which was held in June this year.

Prior to the WTC encounter, India toured New Zealand in 2020, in which the Kiwis trounced India by ten wickets and seven wickets in the two-match Test series. 

These two losses have been one of the worse for the Men in Blue in the longest format over the last couple of years and the mislay for sure still haunts the team and the followers. 

Former Indian coach Ravi Shastri in his final speech regretted the loss against New Zealand in the World test championship as his biggest failure so this series is of paramount importance to avenge the loss.

The selection seems a bit strange considering the fact that India is playing the Test champions and they have decided to rest their key in-form batsman Rohit Sharma, who was the leading scorer in the last two series against England, while the Indian skipper Virat Kohli too has been rested for the opening clash and expected to join the squad for the second Test.

In the bowling department, frontline bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami, both are rested, so in reality, It is India A vs New Zealand encounter as India are virtually playing a second-string side for this Test.

Yes, the players have been rested owing to a busy schedule but given the magnitude of the opponents and keeping in mind the WTC ladder for 2021-2023, the selectors seem to have taken things a bit too lightly. Can the young Indian line-up under the guidance of the new coach- Rahul Dravid bail them out?

Head to Head

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

Venue

Kanpur is slated to host the first Test and rightly so, Kanpur is considered to be the Gabba of India, the last time India lost a Test at this venue was way back in 1983 to West Indies, when Sunil Gavaskar dropped his bat at the fiery pace of Marshall. It has been 38 years of the unbeaten streak.

The Green Park in Kanpur has hosted 22 Tests out of which India have won 7, lost 4, and drawn 11. The last match was played here in 2016, against the very same opponents, India won that match rather convincingly by a margin of 197 runs courtesy of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who picked 16 wickets between them.

Match timings

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

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

Team

India

In absence of KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Shubhman Gill are likely to open the innings. Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, and Shreyas Iyer will do honors as batters. Saha has been roped as the first choice keeper and he will be hoping he can make a mark for himself in the heavily packed Indian contingent. 

Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, and Mohammad Siraj will hold the mantle of bowlers.

Probable Playing Xl: 

Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (C), Shreyas Iyer/ Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Mohammad Siraj, Ishant Sharma

New Zealand

Who will open is a question for New Zealand. As Daryll Mitchell did a good job in the shortest format, he can pair with Tom Latham as Henry Nicholls, Kane Willamson and Ross Taylor can follow them.

If Latham keeps then Will Young can make the cut else Glenn Philips may take up the responsibility of donning the gloves and playing the finisher’s role.

Tim Southee will spearhead the attack, supported by Kyle Jamieson, Neil Wagner, Mitchell Santner, and Ajaz Patel.

Probable Playing Xl:

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

Pitch

In Kanpur batting is not easy when you have just arrived at the crease. There is pace, movement, and zip on the surface so teams tend to play a line-up that bats deep.

Spinners are more effective in early overs as the uneven bounce is expected on account of the hard ball.

Chin music is an effective tool that will be exercised by Mohammad Siraj, Neil Wagner, and Kyle Jamieson. India holds the edge in the spin division as Ashwin is too tough to handle and he can prove a deadly force in home conditions with the wickets deteriorating. 

Toss

In Kanpur, you win toss and bat first. The fourth innings is difficult as on the 5th day the pitch tends to crack and keep low.

Runs will come by dabs, flicks, and guiding the ball to gaps and for that reason, the batsmen should take their time to set in.

Score Prediction

If India bats first, they will score around 300+, New Zealand will score around 250+. In the 2nd innings, India will score around 300 which the visitors may fail to chase.

If New Zealand bats first and they can score around 300, India will also reply by scoring a similar score.

In the 2nd innings, New Zealand will probably score around 250 and this target will be tricky and India may struggle to reach there.

So India has the edge owing to the Spin duo of Ashwin and Jadeja and they will inflict the first blow but given the inexperienced batting line-up of India barring a few, a chase of above the 200-mark looks a tough task for the home team. 

Happy Viewing.

Disclaimer 

The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the author's view and do not necessarily reflect the official match scores, proceedings, or position of the match in any way.