Test Cricket

India vs New Zealand 2021: Strongest Playing 11 for Test Series

Key players missing as we look at the strongest first-choice playing 11 for Team India for the 2021 Test series vs New Zealand. 

The World Test Championship 2021-23 started on a very positive note for Team India. In what was the toughest assignment in this Test cycle, India managed to keep the away Test Series vs England at 2-1 with 1 match left. This is a superb achievement for Team India given their away struggles in Test Cricket in England off-late.

After that assignment, Team India now moves to a more comfortable environment at home to face New Zealand. While New Zealand are a very strong team, the same can’t be said seeing their performance in India over the years. Only twice in 34 Tests have New Zealand managed to win in India. Unsurprisingly, they are yet to win a Test series in India.

From the squad standpoint, it does seem Team India aren’t considering this Test series as a priority. While Virat Kohli is rested for the first Test, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah are going to miss the entire series. Whereas the other superstars including Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant are preferred for T20Is over Tests.

So, with many absentees and new entrees, what could be the strongest first-choice playing 11 for Team India for the 2021 Test Series vs New Zealand? Let’s find out in this article. As we are finalizing the strongest playing 11 for the entire series, we are considering Virat Kohli as the Captain even as he won’t be available for the first Test.

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

Batsmen: Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul, KS Bharat (WK), Mayank Agarwal, Shreyas Iyer, Shubman Gill & 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

Openers: KL Rahul & Shubman Gill

In the absence of injured Shubman Gill in England, KL Rahul impressed as an opener in the 4 Tests he played alongside first-choice opener, Rohit Sharma. But as we talk about the New Zealand series, Rohit Sharma is rested and Shubman Gill is back in the squad. This means, it is almost certain to see Shubman Gill open alongside KL Rahul for the first Test at least. 

Middle-order: Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C) & Ajinkya Rahane

Team India’s middle-order hasn’t changed for quite a few years now, and even after some poor performance since the start of 2020, it still remains the same with Cheteshwar Pujara at 3, Captain Virat Kohli at 4, and Ajinkya Rahane at 5. With below-par performances in the last two years, the home series can just be a perfect opportunity for these 3 to get back to form. 

But Virat Kohli won’t be available for the first Test. Ajinkya Rahane shall be leading in his absence and Cheteshwar Pujara shall be his deputy. In the absence of Virat Kohli, the best player to replace him looks Mayank Agarwal. Although an opener primarily, Mayank was tried in the middle order before, and he looks good to play that role in the absence of Virat. 

Wicket-keeper: Wriddhiman Saha

Rishabh Pant is the team’s first-choice wicket-keeper in all formats currently. Given the amount of cricket he has been playing, Rishabh Pant has been rested from the Test Series. In place of Pant, Saha looks most likely to play as the leading wicket-keeper. Team also has KS Bharat in the squad, but he will have to wait for his chance. 

Spinners: Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, & Axar Patel

Without a doubt, all three spin bowling all-rounders, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, and Axar Patel should play in both the Test matches. It isn’t a surprise that the Test series shall see pitches assisting spin more. If it does, Team India will have to play all three spinners. Apart from their lethal spin bowling, the trio shall also add good value as lower-order batters. 

Pacers: Ishant Sharma & Mohammed Siraj

Talking about pacers, Team India have four options in the form of Mohammed Siraj, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav & Prasidh Krishna. Ideally, Umesh Yadav is a wonderful bowler for home conditions, and should be looked at. But in all probability, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Siraj will lead the pace bowling duties for the New Zealand series. 

So, that completes the strongest first-choice playing 11 for Team India for the 2021 Test Series vs New Zealand. Apart from the number 4 position and second pacer spot, the rest 9 spots look fairly settled. 

India vs New Zealand 2021 – Strongest First-choice Playing 11 for Test Series:

KL Rahul, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Mohammed Siraj & Ishant Sharma. 

Thanks for reading! What’s your playing 11 for Team India for the 2021 Test series vs New Zealand? Please email your thoughts to business@cricalytics.com

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