About the Match
After sealing an ODI series victory against India, New Zealand is now geared up to face the visitors for a 2-match Test series that begins on 6th Feb at Auckland. The home side is well prepared for the match and has done their homework to pull up a strategy against the Indians whereas the visitors too must have well-adjusted to the conditions by now and will bring out all the weapons in their armour to take down the Kiwis. The 2-day tour match at Whangarei resulted in a draw but both sides got a good warm-up before the upcoming match, especially the Indians who have struggled so far. It will surely be a treat to the fans as both teams will be at their best on Thursday, trying to dominate from the start.
Corey Anderson and Tim Southee have been in good form and they delivered well against the West Indies in their recent tour; Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Ish Sodhi and Neil Wagner are also expected to do well as they have got a few wickets recently and kept their bowling tight. In the batting department, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor have been very consistent with their performance and will definitely test the patience of the Indian bowlers. While Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford will most likely open the innings, Brendon McCullum, Watling and Corey Anderson will be very strong in the middle order as they have also scored some big runs recently. The team has been upbeat with their great performance against West Indies and coupled with their domination of the Indians in the recent ODI series, this side will pose quite a few challenges to the visitors and look confident to turn the match in their favour.
Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav and Wriddhiman Saha have joined the squad ahead of the Test match and while they got some practice in the tour match, they will need to get accustomed the conditions here and settle down quickly. Ishant Sharma, Pandey and Ashwin were effective and got regular wickets in the practice game while Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav showed a lot of promise with their economical bowling. The batsmen, who have struggled against the Kiwi bowling, will need to find answers to the short ball and Pujara looks confident to do so with his recent form. While Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay have not been at their best, they will be surely motivated to do well for the country and start on a positive note; Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane did well in the tour match, scoring half-centuries and along with Rayudu and Dhoni, this batting line-up looks strong as long as they believe in themselves. Kohli had a rough patch in the last few games but looks confident to come back stronger; this team can be a formidable force to reckon with and they will be eager to start winning here for a change.
While the Indian side looked completely lost in the one-day series, the team has been strengthened by some experienced players joining the squad for the Tests and will surely give a tough fight to the Kiwis. New Zealand on the other hand has improved its performance and has been on a winning roll in the last couple of months, while the match will have its ups and downs; but considering risk-reward ratio while batting on Indians, they seem to be a better betting prospect.
India, 4.50 @ Titan Bet