Cricket

Openers’, lone spinner’s spots in focus

Toss up: Both R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will vie for a berth in the playing XI for the Test.

Toss up: Both R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will vie for a berth in the playing XI for the Test.   | Photo Credit: K.R. Deepak

Taking on New Zealand XI in a warm-up match, India will look to get line-up right for first Test

Clarity on opening combination, a call on whether R. Ashwin’s variations can trump Ravindra Jadeja’s allround skill-sets will be the focus for India in its three-day warm-up game against New Zealand XI starting here on Friday.

After the harsh reality check of 0-3 drubbing in the just-concluded ODI series, a red-ball warm-up game will be the most welcome distraction for Virat Kohli and his men as a precursor to the two-match Test series starting next week.

Ideal practice game

India could not have asked for a better practice game as the opposition team is full of New Zealand senior and A-team players, including leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, allrounder Jimmy Neesham and wicketkeeper Tim Seifert, in its ranks.

The inclusion of white ball pacers Scott Kuggeliejn and Blair Tickner will be the kind of test which both Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill will relish as they make a case for their inclusion in the playing XI for the first Test starting in Wellington on February 21.

Shubman will be itching to show his skipper that he is ready for the big debut which is eagerly anticipated among his growing legion of fans, despite his international career being two-match old.

Test for spinners

A flat track like the one at Seddon Park will also be a test for the two frontline spinners with Ashwin and Jadeja getting a chance to test the likes of Daryl Mitchell, Tom Bruce and Seifert in action.

For the New Zealand XI, there is Dane Cleaver, who has had scores of 196 and 53 in the two A ‘Tests’ against India. He would like to impress the selectors and get into the first team for the Test series. India is looking to get its combination right for the Test series which is a part of the World Test Championship.

The teams (from):

India: Virat Kohli (Capt), Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (Vice-capt.), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Hanuma Vihari, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Rishabh Pant, Navdeep Saini and Shubman Gill.

New Zealand XI: Daryl Mitchell (Capt), Finn Allen, Tom Bruce, Dane Cleaver, Henry Cooper, Scott Kuggeleijn, James Neesham, Rachin Ravindra, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner, Will Young. Jake Gibson and Scott Johnston.

Match starts at 3:30 a.m. IST.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 3:52:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/openers-lone-spinners-spots-in-focus/article30813018.ece

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