2nd Test: Sans Ishant, India look to fight back against New Zealand

Christchurch: After conceding a heavy defeat in the first Test in Wellington, Team India will look to bounce back and level the two-match series when they take on New Zealand in the second game beginning Saturday. But Ishant Sharma being ruled out of the game is not news that would be pleasing to skipper Virat Kohli’s ears.

Coming back to the game, the highly-rated Indian batting line-up, which boasts of having the likes of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, would want to fire on all cylinders after being caught napping against the pace attack of the Black Caps in Wellington. It was India’s first loss in the ongoing ICC World Test Championship and even head coach Ravi Shastri acknowledged they needed a “shake-up” to come out of their fixed mindset.

“We were outplayed in the first Test, but I always believe that a shake-up like that is good. It opens your mindset,” Shastri said at the pre-match presser on Friday.

“If you have not tasted defeat you can have a closed or fixed mindset. Here, when you see what has happened, it is good and it gives you opportunities to learn. You know what New Zealand are doing and what to expect. It’s a good lesson and the boys are up for the challenge,” he added.

And their task doesn’t seem to get any easier at the Hagley Oval.

Neil Wagner, who is practitioner of the short-ball tactic, will be joining Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Kyle Jamieson and thus there will be more problems for the Indian batters during the next five days.

Mayank Agarwal and Rahane were the lone two Indian batters who looked to have the arsenal to tackle the conditions as well as the short-pitched stuff bowled by the New Zealand pacers.

So, it would be pertinent for the team that these two continue with their form and in addition, the likes of Kohli, Pujara and Hanuma Vihari also score big so that they can put pressure on the hosts.

At least two changes can be expected in the India playing XI from the last Test with Ravichandran Ashwin likely to lose his spot to Ravindra Jadeja and either of Umesh Yadav or Navdeep Saini coming in for veteran Ishant Sharma whose right ankle injury has resurfaced.

In Ishant’s absence, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami would have to make sure they come out with a much-improved performance and leave behind their underwhelming show at the Basin Reserve.

For the Black Caps, it would be all about continuing with what they have been doing since the ODI series. Kane Williamson would be tempted to go with an all-out pace attack and leaving out left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel.

With Wagner a certainty in the playing XI, the team management would find it difficult to bench Jamieson who had a dream debut.

Even though, India have lost just one Test in the ongoing ICC World Test Championship, Kohli and Co. will like to improve their form in the SENA countries.

Squads:

India: Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli(c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant(w), Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav, Prithvi Shaw, Wriddhiman Saha, Navdeep Saini

New Zealand: Tom Latham, Tom Blundell, Kane Williamson(c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling(w), Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson, Ajaz Patel, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Matt Henry, Daryl Mitchell