India are set to cross swords against New Zealand in the second Test match starting from Friday (December 3). The first Test match ended in a thrilling draw in Kanpur. India came agonizingly close to winning the match but Rachin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel’s stoic defense allowed New Zealand to save the match.
With both teams going even-stevens, the Mumbai Test promises to be a fascinating affair. India will have their skipper Virat Kohli back leading the side after being rested for a three-match T20 series, and one Test match. It remains to be seen whom Kohli replaces in the side. The likely casualty is Mayank Agarwal due to his low returns in the Kanpur Test. Rahul Dravid, team India head coach has backed Ajinkya Rahane to come out of the lean patch, and that indicates he is all set to play at his home ground.
Shreyas Iyer’s century and a half-century on debut has solidified his place in the team. Meanwhile, Wriddhiman Saha is declared fit to play the second Test after suffering from neck stiffness. However, the Wankhede pitch in Mumbai has managed to grab eyeballs.
Certain reports have mentioned that the pitch might assist pacers more than spinners. India, who have banked on spinners to come good in the home conditions might have to slightly tweak the XI if the Wankhede surface has enough grass cover. The home team have Mohammed Siraj and Prasidh Krishna in the reserves.
The only slight concern for India will be the top order not firing collectively. In both the innings, the likes of Agarwal, Pujara, Gill, and Rahane missed out on scoring some vital runs. Iyer bailed the team on both occasions, but the story could have been different if he too didn’t contribute. India would be hoping for some better returns from the top-order batters.
On the other hand, New Zealand bowlers led by Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson performed well on a tricky Kanpur surface. The Mumbai pitch might favor the deadly pair, and they will look to make the most of it. Tom Latham and Will Young also performed well for the visitors. In both the innings, the duo were ready to play the waiting game and then looked to attack. Latham scored twin half-centuries and by far looked the best batter of spin.
Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor missed on run-scoring. If New Zealand wants to get closer to winning the Mumbai Test, then senior players’ contribution would be key.
Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal/Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Ajinkya Rahane, KS Bharat, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj and Umesh Yadav
Tom Latham, Will Young, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Tom Blundell, Rachim Ravindran, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Ajaz Patel, Will Somerville