India v New Zealand – 1st Test, Green Park, Kanpur at 05:00 live on Sky Sports 2
India just play t20 cricket right? Wrong. Welcome to the start of a run of 13 Test matches that cricket’s superpower will play out over their elongated summer season. Don’t worry – there’s shorter formatted stuff squeezed in between as well – in what is a BCCI schedule so full, it makes the ECB’s international summer look comparatively sparse. New Zealand start their 5 ODI, 3 Test match series off with a 5-dayer in Kanpur. Fresh from a humbling defeat in South Africa, Kane Williamson will be keen to get off to a good start against Virat Kohli’s India who recently disposed of the West Indies in their last Test series.
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Afraid to report that rain looks to be a factor in Kanpur over the course of the five days. Day three looks to be the best chance of uninterrupted play, but showers are forecast throughout the match. Day one looks to be particularly moist, so bare in mind the draw is likely to be much shorter come end of day one than pre-match. Temperatures will be in the mid 30’s so we could expect some swing with the new ball.
Green Park, Kanpur, has only hosted three Test matches this millennium. Historically this is a tough wicket to force a result with 12 draws in 22 Test matches held here. However, there have been results in 4 of the last 5, with India winning all those 4 Tests in question.
Here’s a list of sides 1st innings scores along with the winner/result of each Test held here this millennium in bold text –
2009 – 1st inns – 642 (IND) 2nd inns – 229 (SL) – IND
2008 – 1st inns – 265 (SA) 2nd inns – 325 (IND) – IND
2004 – 1st inns – 510 (SA) 2nd inns – 466 (IND) – DRAW
Batting in the 1st innings of the match in this period – Average 472
Batting in the 2nd innings of the match in this period – Average 340
NOTE – (we’ve ignored 3rd and 4th match innings for the purposes of this column which has been written for each sides 1st innings of the Test)
Form Guide & First Inns Runs
Here are India‘s last eleven 1st innings scores in Tests, plus result in brackets –
DNB* (D) 353 (W) 500 (D) 566 (W) 334 (W) 215 (W) 80/0* (D) 201 (W) 312 (W) 393 (W) 375 (L) – Average 361* excludes the rain impacted Trinidad and Bangalore Tests
Here are New Zealand‘s last eleven 1st innings scores in Tests, plus result in brackets –
214 (L) 15/2* (D) 582/4d (W) 576/6d (W) 370(L) 183 (L) 237 (W) 431 (W) 202 (L) 624 (D) 317 (L) – Average 373* excludes the rain impacted Durban Test
India return to Test matches after their last affair in Trinidad was farcically abandoned after just 22 overs due to a soggy outfield. Virat Kohli lead from the front once again in the 2-0 series win, averaging 62 in 4 knocks thanks largely to a double ton in Antigua. Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul and Murali Vijay are fighting it out for two openers spots, with Rahul all but guaranteed a spot courtesy of 236 runs in the West Indies. Ajinkya Rahane seems to always score heavily no matter the opposition or location – he now averages 49 in 26 Test matches, with 7 hundreds to his name. Chet Pujara looked two years ago to be the next Rahul Dravid, but he found himself out of the XI in the Windies after two scratchy, irritable failures. He’s since scored 166, 31 and 256* in first class cricket and should return at Kanpur. Ashwin is always a threat with his off spin no matter the surface whilst quicks Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma are near certainties for the final XI having taken 17 and 8 wickets in the Caribbean respectively. Bhuv Kumar could get the nod ahead of Umesh Yadav for the final spot in Kohli’s well-balanced looking home side.
Kane Williamson leads a New Zealand side that is missing premier seamer Tim Southee who has flown home injured. Guptill (below) could get ousted at the top of the order to standby wicket keeper batsman Luke Ronchi, who scored a blistering hundred in the warm-up match versus Mumbai. Tom Latham will dig in up top but comes into the match also shy of Test runs having got out in South Africa 3 times for just 4 runs. As a left hander, how he plays Ashwin will be key. Ross Taylor has vast experience of playing in India having appeared in dozens of IPL matches and will be keen to find the form that saw him score 364 unbeaten runs in his sides two Tests in Zimbabwe in August. Henry Nicholls scored a positive 36 and 76 in the sides defeat at Centurion last time out whilst BJ Watling, the diminutive wicket-keeper bat, has an impressive Test career average of 39 over 69 innings. We can expect at least two of three spinners Ish Sodhi, Mark Craig and Mitch Santner to be selected in the final XI – however they will need to improve fast – the Mumbai game saw them take a collective four wickets for 285 runs in 64 overs. Left arm fast men Trent Boult and Neil Wagner will lead the seam attack with Matt Henry or Doug Bracewell only getting a gig if one of the three spinners miss out.
Ones To Watch
Any series in India, and Ravi Ashwin is undoubtedly the key man. 193 Test wickets to his name at an average of 25, Ashwin is often chief destroyer of any touring batting line-up, as South Africa found to their peril last year. Ashwin comes into the New Zealand series having taken 17 wicket in the West Indies as well as scoring two centuries from his new position of number six in the batting order. Kapil Dev eat your heart out; India has a new great all-rounder.
Will Martin Guptill get another chance to prove his worth in Test matches? The Black Caps opening bat averages less than 30 in 44 red ball internationals and below 21 in Tests played in Asia. Scores of 15 and 0 in New Zealand’s warm up game follows a miserable run of form that has seen him pass 50 just twice in his last 13 Test knocks. Last chance saloon, perhaps.
First Innings Runs Markets
India look value to score OVER anything around the 380-385 mark against a Southee-less tourists attack.
New Zealand look fragile, with a number of left-hand bats waiting to be taken care of by Ashwin. Back them in the UNDER runs market around the 280-285 mark.
Top First Innings Batsman Market
Expect Virat Kohli to get India‘s marathon Test cricket summer off to a fast start by backing him at 3.75 to top score first time around. Ashwin also looks worth a few quid at 17.0
Luke Ronchi looks worth a flutter at 11.0 to top score for New Zealand if he does get picked in the final XI. If he isn’t selected, all stakes are refunded.
Prices correct at time of writing.