Team India is all set to take on New Zealand in the red-ball set up after registering a clinical 3-0 series win over them in T20Is. The first Test match will start on November 25 in Kanpur. A lot will be at stake for India in the series as it is part of the World Test Championship. The Asian giants have played dominant cricket in the longest formats for the past couple of years. However, Kane Williamson and his men have turned out to be a big roadblock in their way as they are the only team to beat India in the Test series since 2019. Virat Kohli and Co. also suffered a heartbreaking defeat to New Zealand in the inaugural World Test Championship final this year in June.
India will miss the services of some of their key players including Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami as they have been rested to manage their workload. Skipper Virat Kohli will also be unavailable for the first Test as Ajinkya Rahane will lead the side in his absence.
In the absence of several key players, it will be interesting to see what will be India’s ideal XI for the first Test. On Tuesday, opener KL Rahul was ruled out of the Test series after sustaining an injury, which almost puts rest on all the speculations regarding India’s opening combination. Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal are highly likely to open the innings for India followed by Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara. In Kohli’s absence, the team management has to make a tough call to pick between Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav for the number 4 spot. Whoever gets the chance will be playing his debut match. All eyes will be on Rahane at the number 5 spot as his position is under a lot of scanners for the past year. KS Bharat might also make his Test debut for India after the tremendous success with the bat and behind stumps in the domestic season.
Also Read: India vs New Zealand: KL Rahul Ruled Out of Test Series Due to Injury, BCCI Names Replacement
After a brief rest from T20I series, Ravindra Jadeja is expected to return to the XI for the first Test. Jadeja is one of the most crucial players in India’s Test set up and his inclusion provides balance to the side with both bat and ball. The hosts will look to play with three spinners on the Kanpur track which is expected to offer some turn. Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel are expected to partner Jadeja for the job. It will not be a very tough job for India to pick the pace duo for the first Test as Mohammed Siraj will be a certainty while Ishant Sharma is expected to get a nod over Umesh Yadav.
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