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Should India pick Shaw for 1st Test? Select your team

By HARISH KOTIAN
February 19, 2020 08:44 IST
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Who do you think should feature in India's playing XI for the first Test against New Zealand starting in Wellington from Friday?

IMAGE: India will look to continue their winning run when they take on New Zealand in a two-Test series. Photograph: BCCI
 

After a see-saw time in the limited overs matches with India whitewashing the T20I series 5-0 and New Zealand returning the favour with a 3-0 sweep in the ODIs, the two teams will resume their intense battle, in a two Test series, starting on Friday.

World No 1 India will once again start as the favourites, have gone undefeated in their last five series, including four series whitewashes.

India, who have won their last seven Tess in a row, also boast of a good recent record against New Zealand -- winning four out of the last five series played against the Kiwis.

There are a few areas to ponder though for the Indians before they take the field for the series opener in Wellington, from February 21.

With New Zealand expected to field a strong pace bowling attack, the opener's role will be crucial for the visitors.

With Rohit Sharma being ruled out due to a hamstring injury and the in form K L Rahul ignored despite a superb run in the limited overs game in the past few months, India are set to go into the series with regular opener Mayank Agarwal, who has so far played nine Tests, and did well in the home series against South Africa and Bangladesh with two double centuries and a hundred.

After a poor run in the three-match ODI series, Agarwal brought some relief to the Indian camp as he returned to form just in time for the Tests. He stroked a fluent 81 from 99 balls, hitting 10 fours and three sixes, during the second innings of the three-day practice game against a New Zealand XI last week.

It will be interesting to see who gets to partner Agarwal, with India having to choose between the young duo of Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill.

Shaw, back in the Test squad after 16 months, also failed in the ODI series and didn't make much of an impression in the practice game. He did give glimpses of his potential with a quickfire 39 from 31 balls in the second innings which could tilt the balance in his favour considering that Gill perished for single digit scores in both innings against the New Zealand XI.

But Gill has his backers after he enjoyed a strong showing for India A in New Zealand. He hit 83 and 204 not out batting in the middle order in the first unofficial Test for India A and then scored a hundred while opening the batting in the second game.

Hanuma Vihari also staked his claim for a place in the middle order with a solid century in the warm-up match and could get the nod at No 6 if India decide to go in with four bowlers.

Wriddhiman Saha will continue to be the first choice wicket-keeper ahead of Rishabh Pant who also pushed his case to be included as a specialist batsman if needed as he smashed a 65-ball 70 in the practice game.

It will also be interesting to see who among the two spinners -- Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin -- makes the cut with India expected to go in with three pacers and a spinner.

Jadeja was the preferred spinner in the two Test series in the West Indies -- India's last assignment away from home -- and is likely to get the nod yet again.

Among the pacers, the choice is not so difficult for the team management. Jasprit Bumrah will be keen to redeem himself after a below-par showing in the ODI series, while Mohammed Shami will be looking to continue his good consistent showing.

Ishant Sharma has been ruled fit for the series after recovering from his ankle injury and India could certainly benefit from his experience, having taken 15 wickets in the two Test series on their last trip in 2014, which the hosts won 1-0.

But if he needs time to get back to his top shape, then India have a ready replacement in Umesh Yadav, with the young Navdeep Saini also waiting in the wings.

Who do you think should feature in India's playing XI for the first Test?

Should India pick Shaw as the opener or should they give Gill a look in?

Should they go in with an extra batting option in Vihari?

And should Jadeja play ahead of Ashwin?

Pick your team by clicking the boxes below:

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HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com
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