New Zealand and India will lock horns in a two-match Test series starting February 21. The first Test will be played at Basin Reserve in Wellington before both the teams travel to Christchurch for the second Test. This will be the first Test series for both New Zealand and India this year. It will be an opportunity to begin their red-ball outing on a high.
With 120 points at stake, it will be a battle to get the better of each other as two evenly matches teams go head-t0-head against each other. Despite New Zealand’s home advantage, India will be confident of putting up a great show in the Tests against the Kiwis.
India will aim to muster all 120 points and consolidate its numero uno position in the World Test Championship. However, the conditions are not expected to be batsman-friendly. In such a scenario when India will bank upon their bowlers, the batsmen will have to pull up their socks in putting runs on the board.
Here, we take a look at 3 Indian players to watch out for in the Test series:
The young opening batsman, Prithvi Shaw has seen it all in such a short span of his international career playing for India. From scoring a ton on debut to getting injured before the Test series, and being banned due to doping charges, the last 12 months have been eventful for Prithvi. However, ever since he is back in action, the Mumbai-lad has not missed an opportunity in order to inch closer to the India selection.
And when finally he was picked for the ODI series against New Zealand, Shaw had a mediocre outing in all the three games against Kiwis. However, with a two-match Test series, there’s still an opportunity for the youngster to redeem himself in the red-ball format.
It is highly likely that Shaw will start as an opener alongside Mayank Agarwal in the first Test. After being dismissed for a duck in the only practice match, all eyes will be pinned on him if he can deliver in the overseas conditions or does India need to look back at the discarded options for the opening slot.
India’s No.3 in the Test format, Cheteshwar Pujara will return to the fold after he last featured in the Pink Ball Test against Bangladesh at Eden Gardens in 2019. Pujara will bat at his favorable No.3 spot and will once again have the onus to shepherd the ship in adverse situations.
With an enduring 93 in the practice match before the Test series, Pujara has clearly proved his form with the bat in hand. After a remarkable outing in the Test series against Australia in 2018-19, the Saurashtra batsman will hope to deliver the goods on yet another tough overseas tour for India. Pujara will be one of the key members in the Indian batting line-up. With an experience of 75 Tests, Virat Kohli and the team will hope that he scores ample runs for India to have an upper hand in the series.
On a personal note, even Pujara will be determined to do the bulk of the scoring and make the most of the opportunity in the two Tests. Even he would realize that the next opportunity to represent India might not arrive before November-December this year.
The Indian middle-order batsman, Hanuma Vihari will be raring to go in the Test series against New Zealand. If India tends to follow its regular scheme of playing four bowlers in overseas conditions, then it might open doors for Vihari to feature in the playing XI. It will be a case of getting an opportunity if the visitors entrust their four bowlers to pick 20 wickets in the game.
In the practice match against New Zealand A, Hanuma registered a score of 101 before he retired hurt in the innings, He was the most successful batsmen on the day and looked unfazed by the awkward bounce after seeing the first few overs. With a century in the side match, Vihari has presented his case for a possible selection in the Test team.
It will be an opportunity for the Andhra batsman to continue his rich vein of form against the red-ball and contribute to attaining glory in the upcoming Test series against New Zealand.