Cheteshwar Pujara returns to the side ahead of Test series against New Zealand © Getty Images
Feb 1, 2014
India will be playing the New Zealand XI in Whangarei, Auckland in a two-day game after being thrashed 4-0 in the recently-concluded five-match One-Day International (ODI) series on Sunday.
India will look to erase some of the scars suffered in the ODIs by getting ample practice before the two-match Test series against the hosts. India’s Test specialists Cheteshwar Pujara, Zaheer Khan and Murali Vijay will be looking for ample game time to settle in the conditions and the struggling pace attack will also be boosted by the presence of Umesh Yadav, who returns from injury.
It remains to be seen if rookie medium-pacer Ishwar Pandey features in the line-up against a side that largely features fringe players, eager to impress the New Zealand selectors ahead of the Test series starting on February 6.
Indian pace bowlers in particular have been under the scanner because of the manner in which the New Zealand top order batsmen carted them around over the short boundaries and the top order batsmen, Shikhar Dhawan in particular would also be looking to iron out his technique while facing the rising ball, which had him at sea in the ODIs.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has also suffered a torrid time and although the conditions are highly unlikely to offer the kind of turn and purchase that he would so crave at this juncture, the Chennai based all-rounder would be trying to improve on his wretched record away from home.
The Two Test matches will be played in Auckland from February 6-10 and in Wellington from February 14-18.
New Zealand XI: George Worker, Robbie O’Donnell, Anton Devcich (c), Jono Hickey, Shawn Hicks, Henry Walsh, Tim Seifert (wk), Jono Boult, Roald Badenhorst, Ili Tugaga, Iain McPeake, Tipene Friday.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Amabti Rayudu, Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishwar Pandey.