NZ vs IND second Test: Batsmen will have to step up for India to draw level

No easy ride: India has a fight on its hands, and Mayank Agarwal, Wriddhiman Saha and Cheteshwar Pujara, seen leaving the Hagley Oval after training, know that only too well.

No easy ride: India has a fight on its hands, and Mayank Agarwal, Wriddhiman Saha and Cheteshwar Pujara, seen leaving the Hagley Oval after training, know that only too well.   | Photo Credit: Mark Baker

Ishant out with injury, Umesh likely to come in; Kiwis all set to unleash pace power

The Hagley Oval is flanked by lush green gardens that mirror the city’s serene and pleasant ambience. However, things will not be remotely as peaceful for the Indians on a grass-laden surface as they strive to square the series in the second Test beginning on Saturday.

A big game

Also at stake would be 60 points of the World Test Championship. It’s a big game for both sides.

Interesting read: New Zealand vs India: Why India pacers struggled in Wellington

The Test has not begun and India has already been hit by an injury blow. Ishant Sharma’s ankle injury — picked up during the Ranji season — has flared up again and the lanky paceman will miss the second Test.

Ishant was, by far, the best Indian bowler in the first Test and returned a five-wicket innings haul. Umesh Yadav, sharp but not as tall as Ishant, is expected to come in.


While Ishant relies on bounce and an off-stump line, Umesh, a handful with his pace, does damage with reverse-swing. Umesh pitches the ball up and can bowl out-swingers with the new ball.

The Indian batsmen will have to approach the Test with a fresh mind-set. At Wellington, they appeared under a mental siege. They were neither convincing in defence as the ball seamed around nor able to pierce the infield. Simply put, the Indian batsmen could not take the challenge to the Kiwi pacemen.

In fact, apart from Mayank Agarwal’s second-innings half-century, none was able to find the balance between aggression and defence.


Sweet memories

The Kiwis comprehend the green, seaming track here and the conditions well. In the Test against Sri Lanka, here in 2018, New Zealand won by a whopping 423 runs. Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner were red hot.

And that was a Test where New Zealand, asked to bat, was dismissed for 178 in its first innings. So the toss alone does not determine outcomes in these parts.

A team has to play good cricket, adapt to the conditions. The batsmen, including the young Prithvi Shaw, have to wait for the ball to come to them, and play late.

The Indian batting could be under greater scrutiny in the Test with the Kiwis likely to play four specialist seamers plus Colin de Grandhomme’s teasing swing.

Kohli & Co. will have to face off against left-armer Wagner, who employs short-pitched bowling with telling effect, both over and round the wicket, often from wide of the crease.

Before Wagner enters the picture, the Indians will have to cope with the left-right swing bowling of Boult and Southee. Then there is the off-stump line and bounce of Kyle Jamieson.

On a seaming track, firm pushes in the `V’ rather than big drives are more productive. If the length is short, the cut and the pull can fetch runs. It does help if the back-swing is straight.

Know your off-stump

The Indian batsmen have to play and leave, know where their off-stump is. They also need to display footwork, balance in the stance, and a still head. It’s important that the batsman covers for movement.

Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami did not bowl the right length in Wellington. Both should pitch the ball up for it to swing. And land on a good length for the sphere to seam around.

The Indians have a fight on their hands on what could be a seam-trap.

The teams (from):

India: Virat Kohli (Capt.), Mayank Agarwal, Prithivi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), R. Jadeja, Mohhamed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, R. Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Navdeep Saini and Shubhman Gill.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (Capt.), Tom Latham, Tom Blundell, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme, B-J. Watling (wk), Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel and Daryl Mitchell.

Umpires: Richard Kettleborough, Michael Gough; TV umpire: Aleem Dar; Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle.

The match begins at 4 a.m. IST.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 3:29:04 PM |

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