Team India will tour New Zealand from January to February 2020. Team India is scheduled to play two tests, three ODIs, five T20Is against Blackcaps in their own den. India test team has dominated all teams at home. However, they still couldn’t conquer the final frontier, SENA countries. South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia are the toughest challenge for any Asian team. India team under the leadership of Virat have to defeat these teams to stake a claim as one of the greatest team in test history. Test series between Men in Blue and Blackcaps will be a fierce battle as both teams lead ICC Test ranking. We will discuss improvements India team have to do before facing New Zealand in tests.

 On the Batting Front

Many team India batsmen have played tests in Kiwiland before. They are familiar with extreme bowling friendly conditions in New Zealand. The finest batsman of generation Virat Kohli leads from the front to put India in strong positions from many years. Among current batsmen, skipper Virat, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Cheteshwar Pujara had played tests in Kiwiland before.

Player Name No of Tests Runs Average
Virat Kohli 2 214 62.39
AM Rahane 2 162 54
RG Sharma 2 122 40.66
RA Jadeja 2 82 41
CA Pujara 2 60 15

Test performance of current team India batsmen in the last ten years in NZ.

Achilles Heel – Cheteshwar Pujara

%Cheteshwar Pujara%

Considering above stats, it quite clear that Pujara has horrible numbers against Blackcaps at their home ground. Struggles of Pujara are evident in swing friendly conditions like England, South Africa and New Zealand. His average in these countries is below par, around the 30s. India should have a backup of Pujara in New Zealand. Pujara is praised by many for his patient batting but his stats in swing friendly conditions indicate that he doesn’t have a game to play in swing friendly conditions. Hanuma Vihari is able replacement of Pujara if India needs him.

Concern – Deputy Ajinkya Rahane

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Vice-captain Rahane has been in torrid form in the overseas cycle of India in 2018-19. He averages 28.50 in South Africa, 25.70 in England,31 in Australia. Despite the record of Rahane in Kiwiland is good, his recent struggles in bowling friendly conditions are a concern for India. Prithvi Shaw or Shreyas Iyer are fabulous replacements for India vice-captain if team India needs them.

Foundation – Opening Prithvi Shaw or Rohit Sharma

Even if Rohit has good numbers in New Zealand, His struggles in overcast conditions against fast bowling are a concern for India. Also, Left-arm pacers are a weakness of Sharma is a well-known fact. Rohit has to endure ace left-arm pacers namely Trent Boult, Neil Wagner in Kiwiland. India should back Prithvi Shaw in place of Rohit if team India needs a strong foundation.

 Leader of the Attack- Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Jasprit Bumrah

Injury problems for ace pacers Bumrah and swing king Bhuvneshwar Kumar are a concern for India. Team India should carefully manage their workload as they can be trump cards in Kiwiland.

Second Innings Shami

%Mohammad Shami%

Mohammed Shami is known as “Second innings Shami” nowadays. He has been the most lethal pacer in the last four years in second innings in test cricket. However, lack of conventional swing from him is a concern for team India as he couldn’t take wickets in swing bowling friendly conditions in first innings. As in first innings of the test, reverse swing is not that effective, Shami couldn’t have an impact in first innings of a test. If opponent scored 500-600 runs in first innings, tremendous efforts of Shami in second innings always go in vain. One example of this is his six-wicket haul in second innings of the second test in Australia in 2018 went in vain as Australia amassed good score in first innings as Shami got wicketless in first innings and cost us 80 valuable runs.

Glovesman Question –Rishan Pant or Saha

%Rishab Pant%

Rishab Pant was the most successful wicketkeeper for India when he plundered two big centuries in Australia and England. However, team India management sidelined him for experienced Wriddhiman Saha. Now as Pant has no proper game time in tests, the selectors will still consider Saha as wicketkeeper-batsman in New Zealand too. This will cost us in the batting department which is a weakness of team India. Pant can be best suited as a wicket-keeper-batsman in India team now.

Ace Spinner- Ashwin or Kuldeep

%kuldeep Yadav%

The long-time battle between these two spinners culminated into experienced Ravichandran Ashwin got a place in the team as the premier spinner. However, the failure of Ashwin in SENA countries are alarming bells for India. In his total career till now Ashwin never had at least one five-wicket haul in SENA countries. India should consider Kuldeep Yadav as their premier spinner after his success in Kangaroo land.

As Indian fast bowling lineup comprising with Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Shami looks fearsome and world’s finest batsman Virat leading the troops, if team India address above concerns then India will be in the best place to conquer world number two team Blackcaps in their own den.

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