About the Match
India is all set to play its historic 500th Test as it takes on New Zealand in the 1st Test of the series at Kanpur from 22nd September. After a successful away tour in the Caribbean, the hosts have regrouped and are a confident unit with several talented players and accomplished match-winners. The Kiwis too have had success in the Africas, winning the series against Zimbabwe while suffering defeat against South Africa although after a tough fight. Both sides will be eager to come out with their entire armoury in order to dominate on the field and emerge victorious in this 3-match test series.
Virat Kohli will have to lead the side from the front and continue his good form to take on the Kiwi pace attack; the batting line-up has batsmen like Cheteshwar Pujara, who recently scored a double century in First Class cricket and looks strong to repeat the performance, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, who will be keen to shine once again in the test format, and Ajinkya Rahane, who put up a tremendous show against West Indies recently. KL Rahul has been doing well and could very well feature in the playing eleven while Wriddhiman Saha also contributed well with the bat in the West Indies test. The bowling attack comprises of spinners like Ravichandran Ashwin, who can create variations with the ball to demolish the opponents and keep the runs flowing when needed. Amit Mishra and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who can steady the innings with the bat and also provide quick breakthroughs, bring depth to the spin attack. Speedsters Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami, and Bhuveshawar Kumar have rich experience and can try to stifle the opposition here. Ishant Sharma has been ruled out of the first test
due to illness which is a big setback for Indians.
Statistically, India seems to be little ahead. Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin have been best performers for India in tests while playing against the Kiwis. In just four innings, Ashwin has 18 scalps to his name at an average of just a little over 13. Virat Kohli has scored a total of 426 runs prolifically with five fifties in seven innings at an average of 85.20. Overall, India have managed to outweigh the Kiwis in eight out of ten series they've played and at this venue, India have won four of their previous five tests the last of which was a massive win against Sri Lanka.
Overall, they are a strong unit that can come out with all the firepower to win and add to the cheer of the 500th test celebrations.
Kane Williamson has proved to be an effective leader ever since stepping into McCullum’s shoes; his batting skills aside, the skipper can strategize well to post a stiff challenge to the Indians in their own backyard. The batting line-up consists of experienced players like Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Ross Taylor, Luke Ronchi, Nicholls, Watling and other all-rounders like James Neesham and Ish Sodhi.
Trent Boult can be ruthless with his pace attack and along with Matt Henry, Doug Bracewell and Neil Wagner, who was in superb form against South Africa recently taking 5 wickets in an innings, the Kiwis can try to demolish the Indian top and middle order. They'll certainly miss the services of Tim Southee who's ruled out of complete series due to an injury. Barring their 3-series unbeaten run in Asia, there aren't many numbers which are in the favor of Kiwis. The last time New Zealand registered a win on Indian soil dates back to 1988. Overall, they've managed to squeeze out just two wins from the total of 31 games played thus far. Williamson and Co. will certainly love to give these numbers a scare in the upcoming match.
The spin department has Ish Sodhi, Mark Craig and Mitchell Santner, who provided quick breakthroughs against the Proteas, and can exploit the conditions here to pull off suprises against the men in blue. Overall, this team can be a tough nut to crack despite playing away from home, and they will leave no stone unturned in playing spoilsport to India’s historic test’s desired outcome.
New Zealand has experienced players who are acquainted with the sub-continent conditions owing to their participation in the IPL; however, India will be eager to avenge its previous humiliating test defeat in New Zealand and looks better placed to use the home advantage and win the first match