With 0-1 down in the two-match Test series, India will lock horns with New Zealand at the beautiful Hagley Oval in Christchurch from Saturday (February 29) and the visitors will miss their pace spearhead Ishant Sharma in this crucial encounter.
Coming back from an injury break the Delhi pacer took a five-for in the Wellington Test and was by far looked like the best Indian bowler on the park. However, on Thursday (February 28) while bowling at the nets his ankle injury resurfaced and in all likelihood it will keep him out of the action in India’s final match of the tour and Umesh Yadav is likely to be Ishant’s replacement.
Meanwhile, one good news for the visitors is that Prithvi Shaw has been declared fit ahead of the game. He missed the practice yesterday and there were some concerned surrounding his availability for the game. But on Friday the youngster was back in the nets and had an extensive session under watchful eyes of the coach Ravi Shastri.
“Prithvi is ready to go,” the coach cleared the air on the opener’s fitness during the pre-match press conference.
Nevertheless, apart from the forced change of Ishant, the visitors, in all likelihood, will have one more change in the playing XI from the last Test with Ravichandran Ashwin likely to lose his spot to Ravindra Jadeja. With the top Indian batsmen struggling to get going, the team management wants more depth in the batting line-up and because of Ashwin’s fading form with the willow, Jadeja may get the nod ahead of him.
The pitch at the Hagley Oval will have a fair bit of grass cover. According to the local authorities, this surface will have more pace and bounce than what we had seen at the Basin reserve, in which India were bowled out for 165 and 191 in both innings and suffered a humiliating 10-wicket defeat. Over Virat Kohli’s men need to show much to more application, especially with the willow in hand.
For New Zealand left-arm pacer Neil Wagner has joined the squad after missing the first Test due to personal reason. Following his arrival, the hosts will be tempted to field all-pace attack in Christchurch.
Toss once again will be a crucial factor as both teams are more inclined towards bowling first on that Hagley Oval pitch.
New Zealand (12): Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Blundell, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme, BJ Watling (wk), Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel
India (12): Virat Kohli (captain), Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishant Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Shubman Gill.
Match starts: 11.30 AM Local Time, 4 AM IST