In this era of Twenty20 and One Day Internationals, it’s a real treat to have a Test series between two of international cricket’s great teams. The two Test series between India and New Zealand, starting on November 24, is certain to provide some sporting drama.
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Since New Zealand beat India to win the inaugural World Test Championship back in June, this Test series feels like a rematch between these two powerhouses. Here are some of our predictions for how the series might go.
Test series seem to always bring out the best – and sometimes the worst – in players. The extra pressure, physical and mental, that the Test cricket format puts on players makes it a real proving ground. These players are worth keeping an eye on during the upcoming series:
- Ajinkya Rahane
India have chosen to rest Virat Kohli for the first Test of the series and have named Ajinkya Rahane as captain in his stead. This is a chance for Rahane to demonstrate his leadership talents on the international stage.
It will also provide him with a chance to remind audiences that he is a world-class batsman. He struggled a bit during the recent Test series against England and this is his chance to redeem himself. It’s likely that he will be able to return to form and get India the runs they’ll need.
- Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin has been named one of the modern-day masters of spin bowling, keeping alive the legacy of the great Indian spin bowlers of the 1960s-70s. What better time for him to show off his talents than a Test series held in India?
Ashwin’s record does not fully reflect his talents. Despite being an outstanding bowler when playing at home, he has major performance issues when playing overseas. He’s been vocal about how wrist spinners shouldn’t be seen as better than finger spinners, and this is his chance to prove his argument.
- Ajaz Patel
This is a major opportunity for Ajaz Patel to prove himself. What better challenge for a New Zealand spin bowler than a Test series in India, the home of the greatest spin bowlers in history?
Patel currently boasts a healthy 30.46 bowling average. He seems more at home in Test cricket than in T20, where his bowling average is only 10.73. He has twice taken five wickets in a single innings in his career – this just might be the series where he does it again.
- Kane Williamson
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has sat out the T20 matches in order to be in prime condition for the Test series. It’s no surprise that the team wants him in the best form possible because he is a batting powerhouse. With 24 international Test centuries to his name already, this may be the time to add another.
Considered on track to become one of the greatest New Zealand batsmen, Williamson also has a calm presence that makes him an effective captain. It shouldn’t surprise anyone with an interest in cricket that he will be one to watch.
The Test series
India has beaten New Zealand in the first T20 match of the New Zealand tour. Whether or not this is evidence for how the Test series will go is up for debate. The two types of cricket require such different skills that it can’t be read too much into.
Whether or not this early loss will have a psychological effect on the New Zealand team is another matter. Starting out with a loss is always hard for a team. A loss away from home can be even harder, as it is more difficult to regroup in unfamiliar territory.
Many will look to the World Test Championship for some insight into this series. The New Zealand side put on an impressive performance back in June but after the first innings, it could have gone to either side. At the start of the second innings, only 32 runs separated the two sides.
It was only in the second innings that India’s batting began to fall apart. Kohli and Rahane were both caught out by BJ Watling for 13 and 15 runs, respectively. Watling’s retirement means he isn’t a threat to India’s batsmen anymore – a welcome relief it can be imagined.
Both teams have a roster of talented players who have proved themselves in a variety of conditions. It is difficult to say which team will have the upper hand. However, home pitch advantage could very well be enough to edge India into the lead.