NZ Test series: Chance for new heroes to emerge

After the three-match T20I series, India and New Zealand now face-off in the longer format of the game. The two-match Test series is part of the ICC World Test Championship 2021-23.
Hosts India would look to avenge the defeat of the World Test Championship (WTC) final, while New Zealand aim to break 33-year-old streak in Kanpur as Williamson’s men eye maiden Test series win in India.

Test series: Home comforts for India?

Cheteshwar Pujara has a great record against NZ in Tests as in his 10 matches against them he has scored 772 runs at an average of 43 which includes 2 centuries and 4 fifties. Also, the last time he played at this venue, he scored a total of 140 runs.
After an unforgiving schedule throughout 2021, India’s deputy skipper Pujara – reckoned the break and family time he got during the T20 World Cup has allowed him to recharge and jump back into the grind of Test series.
Star of the England Tour and Flamboyant Indian batter KL Rahul was on Tuesday ruled out of the two-Test series against New Zealand, scheduled to begin here from Thursday, due to a muscle strain in his left thigh. Suryakumar Yadav has been added to the squad but that only adds to the problem of plenty.
With Rahul out of the series, Gill will probably be considered to open the innings contrary to the reports which came earlier.
There is a good chance India will go in with three spinners – Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, and R Ashwin. Mohammad Siraj and Ishant Sharma are likely to be the two-seamers.
Ravichandran Ashwin has played 7 Tests against NZ and in these matches, he has taken 52 wickets which is phenomenal. Moreover, the only time he played at Kanpur in Tests, he took 10 wickets and also scored 40 handy runs. He has scored 134 fantasy points in his last 10 Tests which goes to show his form.

Test series: Kiwis to cause upset?

For New Zealand, it possesses similar composition that of India, with 11 batters and nine bowlers. With no significant injuries and a fresh squad for the Test series, the Kiwis would pose a substantial threat to the Indians in every department. However, being the defending champion of the ICC World Test Championship adds a bit of pressure on the side. Unlike India, it is relatively balanced in every department, posing an equal threat.
On the other hand, NZ is pretty formidable in its batting, with the likes of skipper Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Glenn Phillips and Daryl Mitchell looking to prove a point. As for its bowling, while pacer Trent Boult’s absence makes it somewhat weak, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner and Mitchell Santner will have to work out extra hard.
Williamson is in sublime form in Tests as in his last 5 matches he has scored a total of 754 runs which includes 2 double centuries, and 1 century and fifty each. He also scored a total of 100 runs the last time he played a Test at this venue (Kanpur).
With his penchant for big scores and mountain loads of runs, he will be a dangerman for the hosts.
That said, India have played quite a few games against Williamson knowing his pressure points. They will look to send him trudging back to the dugout early on.
On turning Indian wickets, Mitchell Santner will hold key for the visitors. Santner has played thrice in India in Tests and in these matches he has taken 10 wickets and scored 159 runs, and thus has a good record in India with both bat and ball. Also, given that the visiting spinners have done relatively well in India, Santner can be a great all-rounder pick for this Test series.

Test series: Pitch and conditions

The pitch at Green Park, Kanpur will allow for good stroke play and the batters will find it easy to bat on the surface in the Test series. It will not allow a lot of assistance to the bowlers and wicket-taking is not going to be easy. The average 1st innings score at this venue in the last 5 matches is 250 runs.
Probable playing XI:
India – Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer/ Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Mohammad Siraj, Ishant Sharma
New Zealand – Tom Latham, Tom Blundell/ Rachin Ravindra, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Will Young, Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, Kyle Jamieson, Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel