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NZ v Ind, 2nd Test, preview

New Zealand bounced back from a one-sided loss in Australia to win the first Test against India. Can they close out the series in Christchurch?

Overview

New Zealand v India, 2nd Test
Hagley Oval, Christchurch
Saturday, 29 February - Wednesday, 4 March; 11.30am local, 04.00, 10.30pm (28 February) GMT

India and New Zealand are moving in opposite directions, not just in terms of their performance on the field, but also in their off-field developments. While one team is set to welcome the return of a gun paceman, the other is set to go into the game without theirs. Neil Wagner is back for New Zealand, after missing the opening Test due to the birth of his first child. India, on the other hand, are sweating on the fitness of Ishant Sharma, who suffered a recurrence of the ankle injury he suffered in a domestic game before the start of the tour, and could potentially sit out at Christchurch.

Should Ishant miss out, Umesh Yadav is likely to replace him, unless India make a completely left-field selection by picking Ravindra Jadeja alongside R Ashwin. That, however, is highly unlikely, which all but paves the way for Umesh to make his maiden Test appearance on these shores.

The only headache in front of New Zealand is deciding whom to drop, as Wagner’s replacement, Kyle Jamieson, impressed on Test debut in the first game, snaring four first-innings wickets and making big runs lower down the order. The pitch could play a role in that decision: if there doesn’t appear to be much in it for the spinners, Wagner could walk in for left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel in the XI.

Remember the last time

New Zealand inserted India in overcast conditions and shot them out for 165. In reply, they snatched a big lead of 183, thanks to Kane Williamson’s 89 and some crucial lower order runs: 123 of those coming for the last three wickets. India fared slightly better in the second innings, but their 191 was nowhere close to enough, leaving New Zealand with just nine runs to get, which they did with all their wickets intact.

What they said

Trent Boult, New Zealand pacer: “We're definitely expecting them to adapt pretty quickly and be positive coming into this test match. Their records speak for themselves. They're No.1 in the world for a reason and that's solely because they can adapt to any conditions."

Virat Kohli, India captain: “As a batting unit, we take pride in being competitive, but we weren't. Even scoring 220-230 would've been good. That first innings put us behind and then the lead put us under more pressure.”

Conditions

Morning showers are expected in Christchurch, so expect the team winning the toss to bowl first again. As is the case with most New Zealand surfaces, batting should get easier in the second innings.

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