The pressure will be on India
batsman Virat Kohli to lead with the bat against New Zealand. BCCI
A four-nothing loss of the most embarrassing order will still be lingering on the minds of the India players, when they take stage for the two-match Test series against New Zealand.
India were thoroughly outplayed in the five-match ODI series, and in the process lost their No. 1 ranking. Now, if they lose the Test series against the Kiwis, MS Dhoni and co. will also relinquish their No. 2 ranking in the longer format.
To avoid such a situation, India need to at least draw the series; but with the way they played in the ODIs, true redemption can only be achieved by a series win -- something they are certainly capable of.
The likes of Zaheer Khan, Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay will hopefully, from India's perspective, not be too scarred by the ODI debacle, and will come in with a fresh perspective.
Pujara, in particular was quite impressive in the Tests against South Africa, and will provide the batting order that much-needed solidity.
Zaheer did not exactly make an oh-wow comeback into international cricket against South Africa, and while there were signs of the old prowess on a few occasions, Dhoni will be hoping for a little more consistency, and, more importantly, potency from the experienced left-arm pacer.
For New Zealand, it is pretty simple really - just continue the cricket they played in the limited-overs, and they will most probably have India on the mat yet again.
Ross Taylor is coming off a brilliant Test series against West Indies, where he was near impossible to get out, while Kane Williamson just seems to be going from strength to strength.
Skipper Brendon McCullum also got a long-awaited hundred against the Windies, and if the Kiwi openers also hit their stride, the India bowlers could be in for a long few days.
The first Test starts on Thursday morning 11 am local time (3.30 am IST) and viewers in India will need to make a few strong pots of coffee to catch the action from the beginning.
The second Test is scheduled for a start on Friday week, with the same timings for the final match of the tour as well.
Schedule: 1st Test match: Thursday, 6 February to Monday, 10 February, Eden Park, Auckland (3.30 am IST onwards).
2nd Test match: Friday, 14 February to Tuesday, 18 February, Basin Reserve, Wellington. (3.30 am IST onwards).
Squads: New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (capt), Hamish Rutherford, Jesse Ryder, Peter Fulton, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling, Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner.
India: MS Dhoni (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Zaheer Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Ishwar Pandey, Umesh Yadav.
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