Virat Kohli’s comeback after a good run could not have happened in a more obvious setting as he needed to tread the fine line between tough and prudent in his selection calls when India take on New Zealand in the second and final Test in rain. ‘Maximum City’ soaked since Friday. After an anti-weather end to the first Test, where New Zealand escaped a credible draw by defying the Indian spinners on a slow turner, the home team under his regular captain would certainly make little changes to the combination.
Also, at Wankhede, the hosts may get only four days to implement a positive result as the first day may be damp due to heavy rains and the underlying humidity which will also bring an additional Black Caps pacer Neil Wagner into the equation.
Historically, Indian cricket teams have never believed in changing the status quo and the same problem is with the current set-up of Kohli and new coach Rahul Dravid. Two players of the team are not scoring runs.
Despite this, Shreyas Iyer, who scored 105 and 65 under pressure in Kanpur, has not found a place despite a stellar start to his career.
It happened to Karun Nair after the triple century, but one could argue that it came in a crucial fifth Test against a tired attack and the team was under no pressure.
While the spotlight is on Ajinkya Rahane for all the wrong reasons after 12 consecutive failures in 2021, it is unlikely that the man, who was the captain in the previous match, will be out in the next game due to lack of form.
That too at his home ground.
But every extra chance given to them effectively means that criticism for not sending a strong signal will intensify.
Another cause for concern is Cheteshwar Pujara, who has repeatedly forgotten that cricket is not just about survival. Every Test at home or abroad, every bowling attack – formidable or run of the mill – puts him in one place.
His mindset seemed to have changed for a while in England, but in Kanpur, he wasted himself again.
However, when the team travels to South Africa, Kohli realizes he has only one man, who can blunt the new Kookaburra against Kagiso Rabada and Enrique Nortje.
Hence, the supporters of Pujara and Rahane can rejoice as their favorite players are not going anywhere for the game unless they get injured.
Kohli batter would then say that it is not just Rahane who has not been scoring runs for two years, even the Indian skipper has not had a three-figure mark against his name in any form for more than two years. have put.
And now with Dravid for the company, which is famous for taking the middle of the road, one can certainly expect Mayank Agarwal to be dealt with perhaps being the low-hanging fruit.
Shubman Gill scored an attacking half-century in the first innings and despite not being such a great defensive technique with a yawning gap between bat and pad, he will continue as he is seen as a long-term middle-order solution.
Kohli will be directly in place of Agarwal. Then the question arises who will open with Gill.
It will be either Cheteshwar Pujara or wicket-keeper batsman KS Bharat.
Pujara could prove to be a poor choice considering his current form, while Andhra man Bharat has the requisite experience at the first-class level with the highest score of 308.
India replaced Wriddhiman Saha, who was battling a neck stiffness, could have saved the team management from taking a really tough call for the match.
For the Kane Williamson-led New Zealand, they badly missed Wagner in Kanpur, where his presence could spell more trouble for India in the second innings. A pitch devoid of rain and sunshine could mean that both fast bowlers and spinners will be in the equation.
New Zealand’s three-pronged attack could spell trouble for India on a spicy track and Will Somerville, who played a stellar knock in Kanpur, may have to sit out.
India can bring Mohammad Siraj into the equation, with Ishant Sharma looking completely out of rhythm but, as expected, can keep up with the three spinners.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), KS Bharat (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Ishant Sharma, Mohd Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Famous Krishna
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Latham, Will Young, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Tom Blundell (wk), Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel, Will Somerville, Rachin Ravindra, Daryl Michelle, Michelle Santner
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