India vs New Zealand: 3 opening pairs India could try in the Test series
India begins the final leg of their New Zealand tour with the first Test at Basin Reserve in Wellington on February 21. After winning the T20I series 5-0, the Indian team was found wanting in the ODI with their big guns failing to fire in the entire series. The two-match Test series, however, is an opportunity for the visitors to create history on the Kiwi soil.
As such, India fancies a poor Test record on the Kiwi soil. With only five wins in 23 Test matches in New Zealand, the Virat Kohli-led side would certainly hope to improve their overseas stats in the upcoming series.
The main concern for India will be the need to get their opening sorted ahead of the first Test. The sub-continent teams usually fail to counter early movement with the ball, and hence expose their middle-order against the red-cherry. With a largely inexperienced top-order, Kohli and co. will hope that the young guns can live up to the team's expectations in the trying circumstances.
Here are 3 opening pairs India could try in the Test series:
1. Mayank Agarwal and Prithi Shaw
The opening pair of Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw looks almost certain to start for India in the first Test at Wellington. The two players even opened for India in the only practice match at Hamilton. After failing in the first innings, they stitched together a 50-run stand to induce a likely edge to open in the Wellington Test.
After Rohit's calf injury ahead of the ODI series, it was only a matter of choice between Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill to open alongside Agarwal. Mayank has fittingly earned his spot at the top with runs in the entire home season for his team. He was the highest run-scorer for India with over 700 runs in 2019.
2. Mayank Agarwal and Shubman Gill
While Shaw and Agarwal are likely starters on February 21, Shubman Gill hasn't done much wrong to be left out from the Test XI. He has been in the team for quite a long, without getting an opportunity to make his Test debut. The Punjab-born cricketer was included in the Test squad in August 2019 for the away series against West Indies and has been a part of the Test setup ever since.
Even in the practice match in Hamilton, Gill was allowed to prove his mettle in foreign conditions. However, he failed in both the innings of the practice match, scoring a golden duck and 8 runs in the respective innings. Despite his inappreciable outing, Shubman scored a double ton in the second unofficial Test against New Zealand A in the second innings. His form might force the team management to include him in the second Test if any of the openers fail to get a huge score in the first outing.
3. Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill
While this combination is highly unlikely to happen, it would need a miracle or an unfortunate mishap to Mayank Agarwal for both the second-choice openers to begin for India in any of the Tests. Gill and Shaw have the potential, and even the Head Coach Ravi Shastri talked highly of the two youngsters making it big in the future that lies ahead of them. However, for the series against New Zealand, any of them is likely to warm the benches as far as opening the batting is concerned.
Image Credits: DNA India