In the middle of a 12-match unbeaten streak at home, India’s marauding cricket team will be aiming to reclaim the No.1 spot in ICC rankings when it takes on an unsettled New Zealand in the second Test starting on Friday.
They have begun a packed 13-Test home calendar by inflicting a massive 197-run defeat over the visiting Black Caps in their 500th Test.
Having entered the three-match series on the second rank in the ratings, one lower than Pakistan, India will also look to reclaim the number one rank with a victory at the Eden Test. India did not put a foot wrong at the Green Park stadium in Kanpur even as Kohli’s bold move to go with a four-strong bowling attack surprised many. The two Indian spinners — Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja — got fine support from the deteriorating Green Park wicket and they both accounted for 16 wickets.
The spin-mantra to get success at home has not changed even with the new set up under coach Anil Kumble and Kohli.
That means Kohli cannot afford to go with four bowlers on the Eden track which promises to offer spin only after a bit of wear and tear and leg-spinner Amit Mishra would certainly fancy his chances.
That India’s ace spinner Ashwin has a niggle — corn or thickened skin — on the middle finger of his bowling hand can be a worry for Kohli. The 30-year-old off-spinner, playing just his 37th match, finished with match figures of 10-225, his fifth 10-wicket haul and joined the 200-club of Test wickets.
Uncapped Haryana off-spinner Jayant Yadavmade his way through an impressive show in India A’s recent tour of Australia, picking up seven wickets in the unofficial Tests at 22.57 apiece. In the 2014-15 Ranji Trophy, he topped Haryana’s bowling charts with 33 wickets, and in March this year, Yadav claimed a match haul of eight against Mumbai in the Irani Cup.
India have also recalled veteran left-handed opener Gautam Gambhir who last played a Test way back in August in August 2014, during the tour to England but it remains to be seen whether the 34-year-old will make his way into the playing XI at his IPL home-ground.
India also has Rohit Sharma back among runs in the second innings something that will put them in right frame of mind especially at his favourite venue where he had scored an ODI world record of 264.
As for New Zealand, the visitors are set for a change in plan as far as their spin attack is concerned with veteran Jeetan Patel called in to replace injured off-spinner Mark Craig in their must-win Test.
Santner was the biggest positive for New Zealand in the Kanpur Test and impressed with both bat and ball. He scored 32 and 71 apart from his bowling figures of 3/94 and 2/79 to become the first New Zealander after Daniel Vettori to score more than 100 and take at least five wickets. Match to start at 9.30am IST.
1. With 10 wins and two draws in their last 12 matches, India have been unstoppable on home turf
2. The last time India lost a Test series at home was against England in December 2012
3. Having entered the three-match series on the second rank in the ratings, one lower than Pakistan, India will also look to reclaim the number one rank with a victory at the Eden Test