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India vs New Zealand 2021: 1st Test Best Predicted Playing 11

Shreyas Iyer to debut as we look at the best predicted playing 11 for Team India for the 2021 series 1st Test vs New Zealand. 

The T20I series is done and dusted with India humiliating their opponents in yet another bilateral series. The margin this time was 3-0 as India completely whitewashed New Zealand. But now that the less significant T20I series is over, the focus now shifts to the format that is very important for both teams. 

2016 was the last time New Zealand toured India for a Test series, and 1955 was the first time New Zealand toured India for a Test series. From 1955 to 2021, not once have New Zealand won a Test series against India in India. Such has been Team India’s dominance in this format vs NZ at home.

Key Stats: 

Overall, India have won 9 series and drawn 2 against New Zealand at home. In addition, New Zealand have won just 2 Tests against India in India from the total 34 Tests they have played against India. Their last victory against India came almost 23 years back in 1988 in Mumbai – the match which they won by 136 runs. 

From an individual stats standpoint, Rahul Dravid is the leading run-scorer in India vs New Zealand Tests in India with 893 runs to his name from 14 innings at an average of 63.8. In the bowling department, Ravichandran Ashwin is the leading wicket-taker with 45 wickets to his name from 10 innings at an average of 15.9. 

So, with just a day left for the Test series to begin, what could be the best predicted playing 11 for Team India for the 2021 1st Test vs New Zealand in Mumbai? Before that, let’s quickly skim through Team India’s squad. Please note that, KL Rahul is ruled out of the Test series due to injury, and Suryakumar Yadav had been added to the squad as his replacement. 

Team India’s Official Squad for 2021 Test Series vs New Zealand

Batsmen: Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, KS Bharat (WK), Mayank Agarwal, Shreyas Iyer, Shubman Gill, Suryakumar Yadav & Wriddhiman Saha (WK)

All-rounders: Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja & Ravichandran Ashwin 

Bowlers: Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna & Umesh Yadav 

*Virat Kohli to join the squad as captain for the second Test. 

Coach: Rahul Dravid // Captain: Ajinkya Rahane // Vice-captain: Cheteshwar Pujara

Match Details:

Tournament: New Zealand Tour of India 2021

Type: Test Series – 1st Test

Where: Kanpur

When: November 25-29, 9:30 am IST start

Openers: Shubman Gill & Mayank Agarwal

With KL Rahul getting ruled out of the series, the opening combination seems sorted. The two openers present in the squad, Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal shall be donning the opening duties. Had KL Rahul been there, one of Shubman Gill or Mayank Agarwal could have played in the middle order. Nevertheless, this is a golden opportunity for both; Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal to make a case for the South Africa tour. 

Middle-order: Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane & Shreyas Iyer

With KL Rahul ruled out, and Suryakumar Yadav added to the squad, the number 4 slot is now open for the first Test. To recap, Virat Kohli is not available for the first Test, hence one of Suryakumar Yadav or Shreyas Iyer would definitely open in the first Test. Of the two, Shreyas Iyer seems the best bet as he was chosen above SKY for the middle-order slot. 

Wicket-keeper: Wriddhiman Saha

The wicket-keeper slot shall see a competition between young KS Bharat and Veteran Wriddhiman Saha. This is a completely subjective choice, and choosing any one of these two is a strategic choice. If India choose Saha, they are banking on experience, and the objective would be to win the series first. If they choose Bharat, India are looking to groom the youngster by giving him a perfect opportunity. However, Saha seems the best bet to kick-start things. 

Spinners: Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, & Axar Patel

There is no doubt that New Zealand would be welcome with a pitch that would assist the spinners more. In that case, India would definitely play the trio of Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, and Axar Patel. England suffered heavily against Axar and Ashwin on the previous. Imagine what would happen with Jadeja also joining the playing 11. To be honest it scares me seeing this bowling line-up. 

Pacers: Ishant Sharma & Mohammed Siraj

This would be a tough call for Team India. While Mohammed Siraj would definitely play, Team India will have to choose one between Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav for the second pacer slot. Personally, my heart and mind, both say Umesh Yadav to be played. But Team India might go with Ishant Sharma for his experience. Given that pacers in India are more of fillers, and Ishant might seem the best bet. 

So, that completes the best predicted playing 11 for Team India for the 2021 1st Test vs New Zealand. There’s only one position to debate, and that is of the second pacer. Apart from that, all the other players and positions seem sorted. 

India vs New Zealand 2021 – 1st Test Predicted Playing 11 for Team India:

Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (C), Shreyas Iyer, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Ishant Sharma & Mohammed Siraj.

Thanks for reading! What’s your playing 11 for Team India for the 2021 1st Test vs New Zealand? Please email your thoughts to

ALSO READ: India vs NZ 2021: BCCI announces the official squad for the Test Series

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