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Wednesday, March 03, 2021

India vs New Zealand: Who could be in, who could be out in Christchurch?

After a huge 10-wicket defeat in the opening encounter in Wellington and with the series at stake, India could tinker with their playing eleven for the Christchurch Test.

Written by Sandip G |
Updated: February 28, 2020 9:51:20 am
india vs new zealand, Christchurch TEst, india vs new zealand 2nd Test, india vs new zealand 2nd Test lineup, india vs new zealand test, cricket news Ishant Sharma celebrates the wicket of Ross Taylor with teammates. (REUTERS)

India could tinker with their playing eleven for the Christchurch Test

Prithvi Shaw or Shubman Gill?

If Shaw doesn’t recover from the pain in his left leg, Shubman Gill will automatically replace him. But if he is deemed fit enough, Shaw will have a slender advantage over Gill. For, Shaw has looked fairly comfortable in the middle, and it would be harsh to dislodge a young opener after a solitary failing. Moreover, the skipper has always stressed on giving his men a fair run to cement their spot.

Prithvi Shaw, Prithvi Shaw batting, Prithvi Shaw batting in New Zealand, Prithvi Shaw Virat Kohli, Virat Kohli on Prithvi Shaw, Prithvi Shaw batting flaws Prithvi Shaw walks from the field after he was dismissed by Tim Southee during the first Test between India and New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. (AP Photo)

“We need to give him that time to get used to the conditions a little bit and once he starts scoring, he will feel more confident about it. I don’t think, at this stage, he needs to be sat down and be explained what’s going wrong because I don’t see anything wrong,” Kohli had said in the post-match press interaction in Wellington.

That said, if the strip is on the bouncier side, Gill could be in line for his Test debut, considering his back-foot proficiency. But that would be a leap of faith.

Rishabh Pant or Wriddhiman Saha?

As recently as the Test series against Bangladesh, Saha was the undisputed first-choice wicketkeeper. So it was a mild shock when Pant strode onto the field in Wellington. Maybe, like the horses-for-courses policy for bowlers, India were pioneering a keepers-for-courses strategy. Saha on dry, spinning tracks at home and Pant in overseas climes. With the spinners’ role peripheral in New Zealand, they clearly went for Pant’s explosive batting.

Rishabh Pant’s batting has been up to the task in overseas conditions.

Moreover, Pant’s batting has been up to the task in overseas conditions. He did look composed in both innings. In the first, he looked in supreme touch before running himself out, while in the second he perished going after the bowling as he kept losing partners at a steady clip.

Saha is no slouch with the bat either, perhaps better at farming the strike and batting with the lower order. Again, the decision will depend on the pitch. If it swings more than Wellington, Saha could come back on the merit of his ‘keeping skills, though Pant’s keeping was near flawless in Wellington. So the scales are still tilted hugely in Pant’s favour.

Umesh Yadav or Mohammed Shami

Mohammed Shami in action during the first Test between India and New Zealand. (REUTERS)

It would be a left-field decision if Yadav gets the nod ahead of Shami. But considering that Yadav is the only Indian bowler who can genuinely swing the ball at pace, the other four being predominantly seam bowlers, he offers a canny option if the strip is outrageously green. A bowler like him, with his out-swinger, could have been useful at Basin Reserve.

Besides, Shami was listless in Wellington, spraying the ball all over the place and gifting too many boundary balls. But given his reputation to bounce back, and his staggering form before the series, it’s unlikely that Shami would be dropped, even though the direness of the situation could prompt changes.

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