The second test match between India and New Zealand begins at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, tomorrow. Indian are 1-0 up in the series, having won the first test in Kanpur by 197 runs. The test was much closer than what the score line suggests. There were moments in the match where New Zealand had the upper hand. Two things helped India: 1) winning the toss and batting first and 2) sensational bowling by R. Ashwin. In hindsight, Kane Williamson’s dismissal in the first innings turned the match in India’s favour. It was a stunning delivery from Ashwin.
The victory has tilted the odds of cricket betting in favour of India. The hosts will start favourites to win the second test as well. But New Zealand have shown that they are not prepared to go down without any fight.
Preview – India
India do have some injury concerns. KL Rahul will miss the test following a hamstring injury. Veteran opener Gautam Gambhir has been recalled into the team as cover. But he may not walk into the eleven, as another left-handed opener, Shikhar Dhawan, is already in the team. Right-arm offspinner Jayant Yadav too has been picked in the team in the place of Ishant Sharma.
The most interesting thing to look forward to is India’s team composition. India played six specialist batsmen and four specialist bowlers in Kanpur. It worked and they are likely to stick with it. That will mean Amit Mishra will sit out again. Indian batsmen did just enough to win the match. Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma had good, confidence-boosting outings. But Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane looked a bit rusty. They will come good in the series, no doubt about that. Don’t count them out for any wager on cricket betting.
Preview – New Zealand
Offspinner Mark Craig is injured and he will miss the rest of the series. Jeetan Patel has been drafted in as replacement. Patel has been in prolific form in the county circuit this season. But he reached Kolkata only yesterday and has just over 24 hours to be match ready for the test. New Zealand team management has no other option than playing him though. If he can form a good combination with left arm spinner Mitchell Santner, the pick of the Kiwi bowlers in Kanpur, it will auger the team well.
All-rounder James Neesham too is injured. Another concern for the Kiwis is the form of Martin Guptil. He does not look comfortable at all against spin. New Zealand does not have a ready replacement for him either. They might give a chance to the young, unproven left-hander Henry Nicholls. Judging from the first test, only Williamson and Luke Ronchi seemed at peace with turning balls. The visitors need more of their batsmen to come good against spin.
A good thing about Eden Gardens is that it always offers some kind of assistance to pace bowlers, especially in the first two days. What are the odds of Trent Boult taking a five-for in cricket betting? It is not a far-fetched possibility.
India have the upper hand. But if New Zealand shows resilience, they can spring a surprise too.
Photo Credit: india.com