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India vs New Zealand: Test series preview

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23rd November, 2021

The never-ending schedule continues for the Indian cricket team as they host the number one Test side in the world, New Zealand, looking for revenge over the World Test Championship final.

This series has snuck in under the radar, especially amidst all the Ashes build up, but should be a thriller.

Unfortunately, it remains a two-match series.

India have decided to adopt an England-esque strategy of rotating players to avoid bubble fatigue, and I applaud this. The series is important, but the Indian cohort has been playing nonstop since June and their schedule is packed until mid-next year as well, with their tour of South Africa starting just ten days after the end of this series.

Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant are rested for the series, Virat Kohli will miss the first Test, while KL Rahul is out with a muscle strain.

Rishabh Pant and Virat Kohli of India celebrate the final wicket and winning the Second LV= Insurance Test Match

Rishabh Pant and Virat Kohli (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

The pace absences shouldn’t be too significant with adequate cover in the form of Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma, plus spin carries the burden at home. The batting could be under pressure, and it could be one of the last opportunities for Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane to prove they are still locks in the side.

Mayank Agarwal should come in for Rohit and Wriddhiman Saha for Pant. There is also a middle order opportunity, and potential light on the future, for Shubman Gill and maybe even Shreyas Iyer. However, with Rahul out, it seems Gill will open and one of Iyer or Suryakumar Yadav will debut.


My predicted XI: Gill, Agarwal, Pujara, Iyer/Yadav (Kohli), Rahane, Jadeja, Saha, Ashwin, Axar , Ishant, Siraj

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New Zealand are playing their first Test since the WTC final, and will be keen to continue their success in more foreign conditions.

Their last tour of Asia was in 2019, when they drew 1-1 against Sri Lanka. They also beat Pakistan in the UAE in late 2018, so expect them to give India a real fight.

The Kiwi squad has no big surprises, with a more extra spinners than normal of course. Unfortunately for NZ, their in-form batter, who has been an instant success on the international scene, Devon Conway misses out due to his moment of madness in the T20 WC semi, with Daryl Mitchell coming in.

The batting is solid, but the spinners may be sub-par for this series. Keep an eye out on potential debutant Rachin Ravindra, a solid batsman who can also chip in with some left-arm spin.


On the pace front, Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhome have been rested and this will be the side’s first series without BJ Watling since his retirement.

My predicted XI: Blundell, Latham, Williamson, Taylor, Nichols, Ravindra, Phillips, Santner, Jamieson, Patel, Southee

This series will be competitive. Let’s hope for some fair pitches this time, especially ones where the toss isn’t the be all and end all.

India’s batting is certainly fragile, even at home, as shown by England earlier this year. However, I except India to win the series, with their bowling attack.

New Zealand will show spirit, but I have doubts they will be able to adapt to the conditions.

Prediction: 2-0 to India