Kohli’s Team India face selection, weather worries ahead of 2nd Test

Mumbai, Dec 2: Virat Kohli’s return after a well-earned break couldn’t have come in a more unenvious setting as he needs to tread the fine line between tough and prudent in his selection calls when India take on New Zealand in the second and final Test at the rain-soaked ‘Maximum City’ from Friday.
After an anti-climactic end to the first Test where New Zealand escaped with a creditable draw defying the Indian spinners on a slow turner, the home team under its regular captain would certainly go for a slight rejig in the combination.
Also, at the Wankhede, the hosts may only get four days to enforce a positive result due to heavy rains that could be a dampener on day one and the underlying moisture which will also bring an extra Black Caps pacer Neil Wagner into the equation.
Two of the team’s players have not been scoring runs. Despite that Shreyas Iyer, who scored 105 and 65 under pressure in Kanpur, is not assured of a place.
While the spotlight is on Ajinkya Rahane for all the wrong reasons after 12 successive failures in 2021, it is unlikely that the man, who was captain in the last match, will be dropped in the very next game due to lack of form. The second cause of concern is Cheteshwar Pujara, who has time and again forgotten that cricket is not merely about survival.
Kohli baiters would say that it’s not just Rahane who hasn’t been scoring. Even the Indian skipper hasn’t had a three-figure mark against his name in any form for more than two years now.
And now with Dravid for company, someone famous for taking a middle of the road approach, one can certainly expect that Mayank Agarwal will be disposed of. Shubman Gill scored an attacking fifty in the first innings and despite his not so great defensive technique with a yawning gap between bat and pad, he is being looked at as a long-term middle-order solution. Kohli will replace for Agarwal.
The question then arises on who will open alongside Gill. It will either be Cheteshwar Pujara or wicketkeeper batsman K S Bharat who is replacing Wriddhiman Saha.
For the Kane Williamson-led New Zealand, they missed Wagner badly in Kanpur where his presence could have spelt more trouble for India in the second innings.
The rain and a pitch devoid of sunlight could mean that both pacers and spinners would be in equation. New Zealand’s three-pronged attack could spell trouble for India on a spiced up track and Will Somerville, who played a gutsy knock in Kanpur, might have to sit out.
India: Virat Kohli (C), Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), KS Bharat (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Prasidh Krishna
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (C), Tom Latham, Will Young, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Tom Blundell (WK), Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel, Will Somerville, Rachin Ravindra, Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner.
Match starts at 9:30 am IST. (PTI)

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