So as expected, Gautam Gambhir is left out of the side and Shikhar Dhawan replaces KL Rahul. The only other change for India from Kanpur is the inclusion on Bhuvneshwar Kumar ahead of Umesh Yadav, who had a pretty ordinary outing in 1st Test. For New Zealand, Jeetan Patel is back after three and a half years in place of Ish Sodhi, while and Henry Nicholls is comes in for Kane Williamson. To further strengthen the bowling, New Zealand also play an extra seamer in Matt Henry.
India Playing XI : 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Murali Vijay, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli (capt), 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Rohit Sharma, 7 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Mohammed Shami
New Zealand Playing XI: Tom Latham, 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Henry Nicholls, 4 Ross Taylor (capt), 5 Luke Ronchi, 6 Mitchell Santner, 7 BJ Watling (wk), 8 Jeetan Patel, 9 Matt Henry, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Neil Wagner.
Early setback for New Zealand
We have some bad news if you’re a New Zealand fan. Kane Williamson has been ruled out of Kolkata Test with illness. There were speculations that he was unwell and he did not even train yesterday. Ross Taylor will captain the side.
From the euphoria surrounding India’s 500th Test at home, which they eventually won quite comfortably against New Zealand in Kanpur, the limelight now shifts to the Eden Gardens. The iconic cricket ground will be hosting the second Test between India v New Zealand on Friday, which also happens to be the home team’s 250th match on home soil. As favourites, the occasion is fitting for Virat Kohli’s team to seal their 10th series win over the New Zealand at home.
As per the motion heading into the first Test in Kanpur, New Zealand batsmen came short of solutions to tackle Indian spinners. The commotion created by R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja – combining for 16 of the 20 New Zealand wickets to fall in India’s 197-run win – once again exposed the visitors’ vulnerability against quality spin in the sub-continent. India possess an 11-9 win-loss record at Eden Gardens, their last loss coming at the hands of England in 2012. Odds are heavily stacked against New Zealand, whose last Test win in the country came 28 years ago.
The numbers look frightening if you’re a New Zealand follower, but it’s not as bad one thinks. Four New Zealand batsmen got half-centuries in Kanpur and it is widely perceived that it was the excessive spin on offer that led to their downfall. The situation in Kolkata though, is expected to be different. Reports suggest that the surface will not provide extra assistance to the spinners due to the recent ground-relaying work carried out. Some hope for New Zealand.
The hot news is that Gautam Gambhir is back in the Test side after two years. The downside to that though, is that he may have to sit the game out. Shikhar Dhawan, although short of runs, is still your No. 1 pick after KL Rahul. Plus, it is highly assumed that Gambhir’s inclusion was only to have a backup option. Once Rahul recovers, it will be difficult to envision the left-hander in the 15.
Amit Mishra was seen toiling hard in the optional practice session bowling for a long period to Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. Kohli and coach Anil Kumble have always emphasized on playing five bowlers so it is likely that India return to that fold.
Probable XI : 1 Shikhar Dhawan/Gautam Gambhir, 2 Murali Vijay, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli (capt), 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Rohit Sharma/Amit Mishra, 7 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Mohammed Shami
Veteran spinner Jeetan Patel has come in for the injured Mark Craig, and it is imperative for Williamson to play him considering the success ration of NZ spinners against the Indian batsmen in Kanpur. Time is running out, if not already, for Martin Guptill. After his no-show in the first Test (21 and 0), Williamson should be expected to try out someone else; Henry Nicholls perhaps. Onus will also be on Ross Taylor to get some runs behind him.
Probable XI: Tom Latham, 2 Martin Guptill/Henry Nicholls, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Luke Ronchi, 6 Mitchell Santner, 7 BJ Watling (wk), 8 Jeetan Patel, 9 Ish Sodhi, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Neil Wagner.
Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) chief, Sourav Ganguly on Tuesday said the moisture-laden Eden track may take some time to aid the spinners during the second Test against New Zealand starting in Kolkata on Friday. But going by history, it is hard to imagine that.
With frequent rains the entire Eden ground has been under cover, so the pitch should have retained “some moisture” and will hence take some time to turn. Both teams will also have to keep a watch on the sky with the Met department forecasting rains and thunderstorm.
Source: Times of India