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India vs New Zealand 2021-22: Virat Kohli's side eyes payback for ICC World Test Championship final debacle

India and New Zealand are all set to face off in a two-Test series from Thursday. India could be the favourite here, as it would eye payback for its defeat against the side in the ICC World Test Championship final.

India vs New Zealand, IND vs NZ 2021-22 (Series Preview): Virat Kohli's side eye payback for ICC World Test Championship final debacle-ayh
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Kanpur, First Published Nov 23, 2021, 11:30 PM IST
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It is expected to be an intense clash, as India and New Zealand will be involved in a two-Test series, starting Thursday. While the opening Test will be played at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur, the second Test will be held at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai from December 7. It would be a mouth-watering series with the pride of both sides being on the line. In the same light, we present the preview of it all.

Team composition
Going by the team, India possesses 11 batters, compared to its eight bowlers. Although KL Rahul's injury comes as a setback, the replacement in the form of Suryakumar Yadav happens to be a healthy addition. Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal are expected to open the batting, followed by Cheteshwar Pujara, while skipper Ajinkya Rahane would headline the middle-order. Also, the batters will have extra responsibility with no Virat Kohli for the first Test, while its bowling remains a lethal option as usual.

For New Zealand, it possesses similar composition that of India, with 11 batters and nine bowlers. With no significant injuries and a fresh squad, the Kiwis would pose a substantial threat to the Indians in every department. However, being the defending champion of the ICC World Test Championship adds a bit of pressure on the side. Unlike India, it is relatively balanced in every department, posing an equal threat.

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Strengths and weaknesses
For India, its strength would be its bowling, despite having lesser men than its batting. With a star-studded bowling attack, the likes of Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel could be a nightmare for the Kiwi batting, especially on a turning Kanpur track. However, its batting has been left exposed due to a lack of superstars in the first Test, with Gill, Mayank, Pujara, Rahane and Shreyas Iyer having a task at hand.

On the other hand, NZ is pretty formidable in its batting, with the likes of skipper Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Glenn Phillips and Daryl Mitchell looking to prove a point. As for its bowling, while pacer Trent Boult's absence makes it somewhat weak, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner and Mitchell Santner will have to work out extra hard.

ALSO READ: India vs New Zealand 2021-22 - KL Rahul ruled out of Test series, Suryakumar Yadav comes in as replacement

Players to watch out
Pujara: The top-order batter has been not in the best of his forms. Although he hasn't scored centuries of late, he has been scoring in the 50s to 90s, as he needs to continue doing the same and make it even better with an already exposed batting line-up.

Ashwin: The veteran all-rounder will undoubtedly impact his spin on the Kanpur and Mumbai tracks. He has to ensure a lethal spin to rout the Kiwis, while he might have to chip in with the bat since the batting is not entirely star-studded for the opening Test.

Williamson: The Kiwi skipper is one of the best batters globally and will have to shoulder most of the responsibility. He is being backed to perform at the highest level in this series. However, it would be interesting to see how he tackles the quirky Indian spinners and plays them well or struggles.

Santner: More than the pacers, the spinners make the most impact in India. On the same note, Santner happens to be the most experienced spinner in the NZ lot, and he would cherish bowling on the turning tracks of the two venues. It would be interesting to see how the Indian batters tackle him.

ALSO READ: India vs New Zealand 2021-22 - Kiwi head coach Gary Stead hints at three-spin attack for Kanpur Test

Squads
India:
Ajinkya Rahane (c), Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara (vc), Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), KS Bharat (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj and Prasidh Krishna.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell (wk), Devon Conway, Henry Nicholls, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham (wk), Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips (wk), Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Will Somerville, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner and Will Young.

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