New Zealand vs India, 2nd Test: Preview - Virat Kohli & Co's bouncebackability in focus as Kiwis aim for series whitewash

New Zealand vs India, 2nd Test: Preview – Virat Kohli & Co’s bouncebackability in focus as Kiwis aim for series whitewash

This is India's first Test at the Hagley Oval.

India
India. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Centurion 2018: The No.1 ranked Test side in the world was brought firmly onto its knees with South Africa taking an unassailable lead in the three-match series. India’s batting was once found wanting in testing conditions and detractors were out in the open- questioning and at times even ridiculing- their No.1 status. A few days later, India is greeted with a snake-pit masquerading as a Test match pitch.

No one was expecting them to put up a fight; let alone win the entire thing. But Virat Kohli and his men showed incredible resilience, bravery and the zeal to prove themselves in testing conditions and eventually came out trumps.

Lord’s 2018: India’s batting was once again found wanting on a moisture-laden green mamba masquerading as a Test match pitch. Their batting-unit capitulated like a pack of cards in both innings, allowing England to notch up comprehensive innings win.

The Indians were shellacked to its core and were subjected to worldwide criticism that ranged from question marks on their attitude, their team-selection, and of-course their skills. But, just like Cape Town, India found a way to make a comeback in the succeeding Test in Nottingham.

India did the same again at the MCG after losing the Perth Test in Australia during their historic series win Down Under. A year and a few months later, the number 1 Test team finds itself in a similar situation as India head into the second Test in Christchurch after having endured a ten-wicket shellacking at the hands of the Kiwis at the Basin.

But, one thing which is different from all the above instances of India staging a comeback after a moral-shattering defeat is the indifferent form of two of their premier cricketers- Jasprit Bumrah and Virat Kohli. Both played a substantial part in India staging a comeback in almost all those aforementioned Test wins, and if they are willing to maintain that pattern, the visitors need both of their superstars to be at their absolute best.

Things wouldn’t be as easy though, as a green mamba and the likes of Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson, and Neil Wagner await their batting unit. The Kiwis haven’t lost a Test series at home since their 0-1 defeat to South Africa in 2017 and they would be hoping to keep their cent percent record at home in the past three years intact. And, what better way to do that than against the No.1 ranked side in the world.

Team Combination

New Zealand

With Neil Wagner available for selection, New Zealand face an interesting conundrum: to go with four out-and-out fast bowlers at the expense of Ajaz Patel or do they go with the same three fast bowlers (Boult + Southee + Wagner) and a lone spinner. Barring this, the rest of the playing XI picks itself.

Probable XI- Tom Latham, Tom Blundell, Kane Williamson (C), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (WK), Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson/Ajaz Patel, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner

India

Ravi Shastri answered a lot of questions regarding the team-combination for the second Test. He revealed that Prithvi Shaw is ‘ready to go’ after it had emerged that the young opener is struggling with a swollen toe. Shastri also revealed that the team will persist with Pant as their first-choice wicket-keeper in overseas conditions while the decision on whether to play Ashwin or Jadeja will be taken in due course.

Meanwhile, India was dealt with a body blow on the eve of the second Test when Ishant Sharma was all but ruled out due to recurring ankle injury. Umesh Yadav is likely to take his place.

Probable XI- Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravindra Jadeja/Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah.

Focus will be on

Jasprit Bumrah [IND]- There has been a lot of talk around Jasprit Bumrah’s form ever since he made his comeback post the injury. Bumrah bowled well in patches in the first Test but was guilty of being inconsistent in his line and length, something entire India will hope isn’t the case in Christchurch.

Virat Kohli [IND]- Another Indian superstar, who has had an underwhelming series thus far is captain Virat Kohli. After managing just 21 runs across two innings in Wellington, Kohli revealed in the press conference that he is itching to contribute towards a win at the Hagley Oval. And, doesn’t India desperately need that right now?

Neil Wagner [NZ]- The ever-so-relentless Neil Wagner will be back for the second Test after having missed out on the first for the birth of his daughter. Wagner has been in the form of his life in the past two seasons and he’ll be itching to test the Indian batting with his consistency at the Hagley Oval where he averages 23.95 in five Tests since 2015.

Stat Attack

1- This will be India’s first-ever Test at the Hagley Oval.

4-1- New Zealand’s W/L record in six Tests played in Christchurch.

2 – New Zealand have lost only a couple of home Tests when both Southee and Boult have played.

Broadcast Details

TV – Star Sports 1 and Star Sports 1 HD

Live Streaming – Hotstar

Match Timings – 04:00 AM IST and 11.30 AM local time