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Among all the throwback to the Virat Kohli-Ravi Shastri era of Indian cricket over the last four years, the most stirring anecdote has been of them getting together in 2017 and explicitly putting Test cricket at the very top of their priority. Rahul Dravid will not have the skipper right away in Kanpur to huddle with and chalk out much of the same plans, but he can rest assured that the strong conviction and drive towards Tests will remain.
Dravid’s permanent coaching tenure with the senior side began less than 10 days after India bowed out of another limited-overs ICC event, symbolically putting improvements in the white-ball format in his to-do list. But with all that India have achieved in the last four years in red-ball cricket, the demands and the ceiling of expectations in Tests will be a lot higher.
India have won 25 of the 43 Tests under Shastri – the win percentage (58.1) nearly unmatched since the turn of the millennium under every other coach. Only Anil Kumble’s short stint (12 wins in 17 Tests) boasts of better returns, but the significance dims in comparison. The team under Shastri also built itself up for unprecedented away successes and are one win (or draw) away in July to cross England off their list. They finished second-best in the WTC final in June but were unarguably the best Test side through the course of the cycle leading up to that one game in Southampton.
Dravid will get his chance to add to the away laurels in less than a month’s time, when India travel to South Africa where they’ve never won a Test series. But before that, there’s a high level of ruthless efficiency to be kept going at home, where India have 12 wins in 15 Tests, a solitary loss and six out of six series victories under Shastri. That India will be without several first-choice players, and be up against World Test champions New Zealand, will count for precious little at home – they already have 26 points in the ongoing WTC cycle, and the overwhelming anticipation will be to add another 24 by December 7.
New Zealand will know all about building absolute fortresses in home conditions. Since the start of 2011, they’ve lost just five of the 43 home Tests – a tally similar to India’s where visiting teams have won four out of 47 games in the same period. The era under Gary Stead since 2018 has also been a bold one, as New Zealand have enjoyed success over Pakistan in UAE and even secured a drawn series in Sri Lanka.
A victory in India’s backyard – first since 1988 – could truly be the most emphatic way to kickstart their Test title defence. New Zealand’s 15-man squad have only got two days of training together but will fancy their chances in Green Park, where India’s batting will be light on experience and form.
Match: IND vs NZ
Series: New Zealand tour of India, 2021
Date: Thursday, November 25, 2021 – Monday, November 29, 2021
Time: 09:00 local / 03:30 GMT / 08:30 PKT
Venue: Green Park, Kanpur
IND vs NZ Live Score
IND vs NZ Live Toss
India have won the toss and have opted to bat
IND vs NZ Squads
Tom Latham, Will Young, Kane Williamson(c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Tom Blundell(w), Mitchell Santner, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Ajaz Patel, William Somerville, Neil Wagner, Glenn Phillips, Daryl Mitchell, Rachin Ravindra
Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane(c), Shreyas Iyer, Wriddhiman Saha(w), Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Suryakumar Yadav, Srikar Bharat, Jayant Yadav
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Match Prediction – Who Will Win
India will win the match.
Weather and Pitch Conditions
The venue has hosted 22 Tests in all, with the first one way back in 1952. But only four of those have happened there since 2000 – and only one in the previous decade, in 2016, which was also the last Test there. That too, incidentally, was against New Zealand where the surface was low and slow – allowing Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to pick 16 of the 20 opposition wickets. Expect much of the same.
Today’s Playing XI
Tom Latham, Will Young, Kane Williamson(c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Tom Blundell(w), Rachin Ravindra, Tim Southee, Ajaz Patel, Kyle Jamieson, William Somerville
Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane(c), Shreyas Iyer, Wriddhiman Saha(w), Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav
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