Wellington: Ahead of the Test series against New Zealand, India captain Virat Kohli on Wednesday (February 19) praised opener Prithvi Shaw and said the team wants him to play his natural game.

"Prithvi is a very talented player so he has his own game and we want him to follow his instinct and play the way he does. I think with the clear head as Mayank played in Australia, hopefully, Prithvi can do the same in New Zealand and Mayank can carry forward that well as well," Kohli told reporters in the pre-match conference.

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The young opener is set to play his first overseas Test in the absence of regular opener Rohit Sharma. Shaw has played two test matches for India and scored 237 runs including a ton and a half-century. He also played the ODI series against New Zealand in which he scored 20, 24, and 40 runs.

Shaw will open with Mayank Agarwal who has already featured in nine Tests. Agarwal has scored 872 runs with three centuries and as many fifties.

"I think Prithvi you can call him relatively inexperienced. Mayank, I would not call him that inexperienced because he has scored a lot of runs last year. So, we understand what his game is like in Test cricket," Kohli said.

"I think in white-ball cricket sometimes you try to do too much but when you come to red-ball cricket then you obviously fall into the discipline mode of batting which obviously suits him much more at this stage," he added.

The veteran pacer Ishant Sharma is also set to play after recovering from an ankle injury which he sustained during a Ranji Trophy match.

"He looks pretty normal, I mean before he got injured. Pretty similar to how he was bowling before the ankle injury. He is hitting good areas again obviously he has got a lot of experience. He has played in New Zealand for a couple of times and definitely his experience is something which will be very useful for us in the series. Really good to see him bowling with pace in good areas," Kohli said.

Kohli said the team is focused on their strength rather than opposition’s strength and are well prepared for the Kiwis challenge irrespective of the conditions.

"It is not different at all it is international cricket. Every team needs to be treated in the same manner. Basically, we focus on our strengths. It does not matter how much patience does the opposition has, we obviously have to show more patience than them. We cannot prepare in a manner that New Zealand might be more patient than other teams and put pressure on us," Kohli said.

"I think we have prepared in a manner where our fitness levels are such and our concentration levels are such now that we can compete against anyone anywhere in the world...We are going to adapt what comes in front of us rather than having a set template against any team that we play," he added.

Kiwis are hosting India for a two-match Test series which is a part of ICC's World Test Championship (WTC).

The first Test between the two teams will be played at Basin Reserve in Wellington from February 21.