India is the number 1 test team in the world based on the current ICC Test rankings. They have done well for themselves in the last couple of years playing home and away.
Captain Virat Kohli considers test cricket as the most challenging format in the game and takes a lot of pride in the way the test team has rallied together in recent times and claimed the number 1 ranking. With the World Test Championship scoring system now in place, it becomes even more important for India to keep winning test matches and test series as they dearly want to lift the World Test Championship.
New Zealand Have The Edge Over India
India for once will go into the test series as the underdogs as they are playing a resurgent New Zealand team. The Kiwis were whitewashed 5-0 in the T20 series against India but bounced back in style and got their revenge by whitewashing India in the three match ODI series 3-0.
The Kiwis have their tails up and know that they have a great chance of winning the two match test series 2-0 as India are not playing their best team due to a number of their key players being injured. The hosts also have the advantage as they are playing at home in front of their home crowd and are well versed with the conditions.
Key India Players Who Are Injured
Kohli is not one to make excuses for his team playing poorly; but it is plain to see that key members in the test arena will not be playing. Here are some of the key players who will be missing in action.
Rohit Sharma; opens the innings for India in the test arena. The New Zealand tour was to be his first overseas tour since taking up the openers spot in the test team. His absence will hurt India because he can not only score quickly at the top of the order and put the opposition under pressure but his experience in shepherding Mayank Agarwal at the other end will now be missed.
Shikhar Dhawan; lost his place in the test arena due to a string of bad scores. However, with Rohit Sharma injured and KL Rahul not in the side, Dhawan would have been the next option had he been fit. Dhawan is currently recovering from injury and hence India have no option but to go in with two young and inexperienced openers.
Hardik Pandya; has been the premier all-rounder in all formats for the last couple of years. Pandya has been missing for action for quite some time now as he is also recovering from injury. India have not been able to find a like-for-like replacement and will use Hanuma Vihari. However, Vihari bowls off-spin and the lack of a fourth seamer in the side will impact the balance.
Ishant Sharma; the most experienced fast bowler in the India test squad. He is not playing the tour game against NZ XI as he is also recovering from injury. Sharma will undergo a fitness test in India on Feb15 and if he passes it, will fly to New Zealand. However, he will most likely miss the first test which starts on 21 Feb.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar; his swing and seam will be missed in New Zealand. He can be very destructive in these conditions. Bhuvi is also a handy batsman and brings more stability to the lower order.
The biggest concern for India will be the two opening batsmen. If they fail, it will make it all the more difficult for India to win!