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New Zealand vs India: 2nd Test Preview

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An Exciting 2nd and final Test Match on India’s Tour of New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington awaits us come the 14th of February as a battered Indian side, who have failed to win a game on the trip so far, seek redemption. New Zealand were slight underdogs going into the first test match in Auckland but after having pulled off a tremendous 40-run win after 4 days, they turn into slight favourites for this Test.

India, on the other hand, put up a big fight in the 3rd and 4th innings of the Test match after playing catch for the first couple of days, which should give them some confidence boost as they hope to level the series with a win.

 

It will not be easy for MS Dhoni’s men in Wellington though as the Basin Reserve presents a true test of Kiwi conditions. The New Zealand capital is one of the windiest places on the planet and touring teams need to acclimatize quickly to pose a threat to the New Zealand side, who are born and bred in these conditions.

Here is a look at what both teams will be looking to achieve in the final game of the tour.

New Zealand:

Although the Kiwis put the Indians under the pump early in the Test Match, they had to dig themselves out of a hole towards the end of the game, and will be looking to keep their focus better through the entire game this time around.

New Zealand will be reluctant to change a winning combination for this Test match series and but for one forced change the rest of the unit is likely to be the same. Former skipper Ross Taylor is expecting his second child during the test match and since the two extra players in the original squad, Jesse Ryder and Doug Bracewell are out of this test for disciplinary issues, 21-year old backup batsman Tom Latham, who averages over 60 in domestic cricket this year, will make his debut.

Kiwi coach Mike Hesson hinted that the same combination is likely to play in the second Test which means openers Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford get another outing to improve on their poor showing in the first Test. The likes of Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson will once again be the key in the middle order for the Kiwis along with skipper Brendon McCullum, who is fresh off a double hundred in Auckland and will be brimming with confidence.

On the bowling side of things, all the 3 seamers in Tim Southee, Neil Wagner and Trent Boult shared the workload well in Auckland and are likely to pose some more problems to the Indian batsmen once again in Wellington. Leg spinner Ish Sodhi did not have the best of games in the first Test but there were a few encouraging signs as he did manage to extract some turn and bounce. McCullum could therefore persist with him for the final Test match.

India:

Although the Indians will be disappointed with both their batting and bowling displays in the first innings, they did get their act together in the second innings and will be gearing up to give their best in the Test Match. One cannot expect too many changes in this young Indian outfit either as all the players chipped in at various points in the game and the team management will be looking to give them as much exposure on the tour as possible.

Opener Shikhar Dhawan, who was under-fire for his poor showing of late, rose to occasion by scoring a century in the second innings and could be a key player for India in Wellington. Rohit Sharma also missed out in South Africa but had a good knock in the first innings in Auckland, which will give him some much needed confidence going into the second innings. The likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane missed out in the first Test match but the duo played well in South Africa and are expected to get back amongst the runs soon.

India’s bowling unit was patchy in the first innings but the team management will be particularly pleased with performance of under fire seamer Ishant Sharma, who picked up 9 wickets in Auckland. Mohamed Shami was the most consistent of the Indian seamers and while Zaheer Khan looked short of some fitness in the first Test, he is expected to run in harder better in Wellington.

All 3 Indian seamers put in a brilliant collective performance in the second innings and MS Dhoni will want a similar effort from the trio right from the outset in Auckland. Ravindra Jadeja fulfilled the role of the all-rounder very well in the first test and his new found batting form is a welcome sign for the visitors.

Likely XIs:

New Zealand: H Rutherford, P Fulton, K Williamson, T Latham, B McCullum, C Anderson, BJ Watling, T Southee, I Sodhi, T Boult, N Wagner

India: M Vijay, S Dhawan, C Pujara, V Kohli, R Sharma, A Rahane, MS Dhoni, R Jadeja, I Sharma, M Shami, Z Khan

Key Players:

K Williamson: The elegant right-hander is the most technically equipped of the Kiwi batting line up and going by his sensational form on the tour so far, he could well be a thorn in India’s flesh once again.

Virat Kohli: India’s star batsman wasn’t quite at his best in the first Test, albeit he did score a 50 in the second innings and one can expect him to make amends with a big score in the second Test.

Pitch and Conditions:

Both teams will need to find a designated ‘into the wind’ bowler for Basin Reserve. India had Munaf Patel do a stellar job on their last trip in 2009 and one reckons that the job could well be passed on to Ishant Sharma this time around. The wicket could have some early juice in it but it generally flattens out on Day 2 and Day 3, which means toss could be crucial on the first morning.

Match Prediction:

India will hit back with a win to level the series.