Rahane will have a litmus test against New Zealand at home, will decide the career path Test series starting tomorrow

Kanpur, November 24 (Agency)

In the absence of some top players including skipper Virat Kohli and vice-captain Rohit Sharma, the Indian team will look to maintain their dominance at home against a formidable New Zealand in the first Test, starting here on Thursday. The Indian team will be led by Ajinkya Rahane who has been in poor form for some time now. They will also miss out on the services of injured KL Rahul and rested pacer Mohammed Shami but Rahane led the team to victory in Australia in almost such circumstances. The Indian team will try to teach a tough lesson to New Zealand by taking inspiration from the performance in Australia that dented their hopes of becoming world Test champions earlier this year.

Mumbai batsman Shreyas Iyer will make his Test debut from this match. He has been given priority over Suryakumar Yadav. Captain Rahane said, “Shreyas Iyer will make his debut but I can’t reveal anything about the team composition.” It has been rare to see the Indian Test team play the opening pair of Rohit and Rahul without skipper Kohli or match-winning wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant in the recent past. But it will also give newly appointed head coach Rahul Dravid a chance to try his other players ahead of the tour of South Africa. Among the batsmen, only Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and Mayank Agarwal have played more than 10 Test matches. If Agarwal does well, it could be difficult for Rahul to make a comeback. If Shubman Gill also bats well, then the team management can field him in the middle order when both the regular openers return. All eyes will be on Rahane in this match. He has scored runs in the last 11 test matches at an average of 19. Failure in two matches on home soil will make it difficult for him to make it to the squad that travels to South Africa next month. Rahane did not look in confidence even during practice. In such situations, he has to lead a team that doesn’t have many star players. In such a situation, how Rahane strikes a balance between his role as a captain and that of a batsman will also decide the way forward in his career. Similarly, the situation is not looking favorable for Ishant Sharma, the senior most bowler of the team. He didn’t seem to be in rhythm during net practice. If Mohammad Siraj is dropped from the playing XI and Ishant is included, then he will also be under pressure to prove the team management right. Umesh Yadav is certain to make a place in the playing XI. Shreyas has a good record in first-class cricket but he hasn’t played in the longer format since 2019 and in such a situation, the challenge for him will be tough. Dravid made Iyer practice the same balls as Neil Wagner does from left-arm throw down specialist Nuwan. Ravichandran Ashwin will again try to prove himself as the number one spinner in the world. During the last series against England, regular captain Kohli did not give him a chance to play even once. He will face a brilliant batsman like Kane Williamson. Ross Taylor, Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls will also be here with preparations to face the spin duo of Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Axar Patel could be the third spinner to take 27 wickets in his home series debut against England.

Team :

India: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Siraj, Jayant Yadav, Srikar Bharata, the famous Krishna.

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