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India v New Zealand test series, 1st test preview

Just three and a half weeks after the T20s versus West Indies in Florida, we are ready for the start of India’s long home season. The first of India’s thirteen test matches this season starts against New Zealand on 22 September in Kanpur. Kanpur will also be India’s 500th test and Virat Kohli’s India will want to make it memorable for all the right reasons

Incidentally, New Zealand is the top ranked T20 nation, #2 ODI nation but only #7 in Tests. Here at 1T1H, we feel that #7 ranking doesn’t really reflect the talent, guts or potential of the Kiwis. We fully expect them to give India, the #2 test team in the world, a run for their money. No doubt Kumble and Kohli will remember that underestimating NZ has been costly in the past.

Ahead of the first test, both sides are knee deep in selection dilemmas, ranging from how many bowlers to pick to how many spinners to pick on the Kanpur track to which batsmen will make the cut.

India’s Ishant Sharma is out with illness and both Tim Southee and Jimmy Neesham are injured for New Zealand.

Here is 1 Tip 1 Hand’s recommended playing XI for India.

1. M Vijay: A tough choice at the top, Vijay should just edge out Dhawan. They have nearly identical records, both domestic and international, but Dhawan’s failures in the West Indies means Vijay should get the green light in Kanpur.

2. KL Rahul: No question about it, Rahul has proven himself a star across all 3 formats. You can’t drop someone who Sir Viv approves of!

3. C Pujara: His performance in the West Indies left much to be desired, but he has since scored 166, 31 and 256 in the Duleep Trophy, which will leave him high on confidence. He should bat at 3 to allow Kohli to return to his favoured no.4 spot. His excellent footwork and skills against the spinners will be very important if India are to do well this season.

4. V Kohli: Captain Supreme. With Joe Root Steve Smith and David Warner all visiting India in the near future, Virat will want to get a head start on contest for the world’s best batsman by outperforming Kane Williamson, his opposite number. He will be looking to push his test average closer to 50 by the close of this season.

5. A Rahane: Just like Rahul, Rahane racked up both a 50 and a century against the Windies and should be a certainty in the line-up. If Pujara plays, Rahane can go back to his sweet spot at number 5.

6. W Saha: Saha silenced his crictics by averaging over 51 in the most recent series against the Windies, including notching up his maiden test hundred while rescuing India from a precarious position in the third test. His keeping is hardly noticeable, which ironically means he is doing a great job behind the stumps!

7. R Ashwin: India’s trump card. Champion off-spinner and budding all-rounder. If India play only five pure batsman, his position in the batting line up is pivotal. He will want to continue his good form with the ball and will be looking to prove that he can get runs against opposition other than the Windies.

8. R Jadeja: This will be the most contentious selection: Rohit vs. Jadeja. We believe that on a spinning pitch, Ashwin and Jadeja can both contribute enough with the bat to leave out the inconsistent Rohit. Test Match Rohit (average 32, 6 scores of 50+) needs to summon ODI Rohit (average 42, 38 scores of 50+) to have a shot at making this XI.

9. B Kumar: With Ishant Sharma out with injury, India should pick Bhuvi. He is terrific with the new ball and can bat, if required, to lend the lower order some stability. He has recently put on a yard of pace and consequently his ability to reverse the old ball make him a threat later in the innings as well. He will be high on confidence after his five wicket haul helped India win the third test against the Windies.

10. M Shami: Save that he was overshadowed by Ashwin’s phenomenal 17 wicket haul, Shami’s 11 wickets in his comeback series was a great contribution. India will be relying on Shami for those crucial breakthroughs with the new ball as well as the old one.

11. A Mishra: With his outstanding record at home, Mishra will thrive against NZ who have traditionally struggled against leggies. He can score a few with the bat too!

With Ishant out due to illness, this makes the 3 exclusions Dhawan, Rohit and Umesh.

There you have it. A crucial home season for India starts tomorrow – we will be blogging about the games and really hope that you will enjoy our coverage!

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