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IND vs NZ, 2nd Test: Series, WTC points at stake amid rain threat


In an ideal world, a Test match at the Wankhede Stadium would mean queuing up for tickets and the players sweating it out for hours at the nets, amid discussions on the nature of the wicket.

All that is missing ahead of the second Test between India and New Zealand. Test cricket’s return to Mumbai after five years has been marred by incessant rains and the fear of COVID-19’s Omicron variant. It has forced the organisers to allow just 25 per cent crowd in the stadium.

However, the Test is crucial as a win here would declare the series-winner and also take them up in the ICC World Test Championship points table.

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Virat Kohli’s return to the side after a short break augurs well for the host as it prepares to field the best XI. With more showers predicted, chances are high that play could be disrupted on the first day, thus making it more crucial for the teams to make a wise choice, in terms of picking the utility players.

New Zealand cricketers arrive in Mumbai for the second Test. ย  – ย PTI

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It has been a forgettable year for both Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara – who have looked off-colour in the last few outings – but even then, the team management and the players are rallying around the two, hoping that they are just an innings away from striking form.

In such a situation, Mayank Agarwal might have to sit out and make way for captain Kohli, while Wriddhiman Saha – who is fit now – could be explored as a potential opener, along with Shubman Gill.

Shreyas Iyer, who had a dream Test debut in Kanpur, will get a chance to show his charisma with the bat at his home ground.

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Even though the teams could not train at the venue due to rain, Kohli and Dravid had a look at the strip and the captain referred to it as a โ€˜typical Wankhede wicketโ€™ – where both seamers and spinners will have their moments.

India could include Mohammed Siraj and rest Ishant Sharma, who looked out of rhythm in Kanpur. The three spinners are likely to continue as the track may offer turn from the second day.

New Zealand may add some spice with the inclusion of Neil Wagner, who had dismissed Gill and Rahane in the World Test Championship final in Southampton earlier in June.

The Kane Williamson-led side earned a draw in the first Test despite losing nine wickets, and that would certainly boost the Black Capsโ€™ confidence ahead of the series-defining fixture.

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