Predicting India’s Strongest Playing XI For The Test Series Against New Zealand

BCCI has announced the squad for the two-game Test series against New Zealand that is set to happen this year. While the first game will start on 25th November at Kanpur, the second encounter will begin on 3rd December in Mumbai. India, which has a strong record at home, will look to avenge the loss at the hands of New Zealand in the finals of the World Test Championship. In this article, we predict India’s strongest playing XI for the Test series against New Zealand. Before that, here is a look at the squad that has been selected for the tournament.

India’s Test squad: Ajinkya Rahane (C), KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara (VC), Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), KS Bharat (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Md. Siraj, and Prasidh Krishna.

Note: Virat Kohli will return to the squad and will captain the team for the second encounter.


Openers: KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal

KL Rahul grabbed the opportunity with both hands when India toured England recently. With both Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal ruled out, KL got the opportunity to open along with Rohit Sharma. Including a century at the Lord’s, Rahul scored a total of 315 runs in four games at an average of 39.38. With seniors such as Rohit Sharma rested, KL will assume the responsibility of being the senior opener.

Mayank Agarwal has had a tough run in recent months. He has been devoid of opportunities in Australia and England, and hence, he has to make the upcoming series count. If he does well, he can get on to the flight for the tour of South Africa.

Middle-Order: Cheteshwar Pujara, Shubman Gill, Ajinkya Rahane (C) and Wriddhiman Saha (WK)

Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have both been handed opportunities to prove themselves. In fact, they have been pushed into the leadership group for the first game. This could help them return to form. With the series being held in India, both these players must do well in order to cement their spots in the middle-order.


There have been reports suggesting that Shubman Gill is being explored as an option for the middle-order. With Virat Kohli missing the first game, Gill could be tried out at No.4. On the other hand, Wriddhiman Saha is likely to replace Rishabh Pant as the wicket-keeper in the playing XI for the Test series against New Zealand. The latter has been rested for the series. If Saha fails to step up with the bat, KS Bharat is likely to make his debut in Mumbai.

All-Rounders: Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel and R Ashwin

India will have its full-strength spin attack for the games against New Zealand. Ravindra Jadeja missed the England series at home earlier this year. While he will straightaway walk into the XI, going by his stupendous debut series, Axar Patel is also likely to feature in the playing XI. Both the southpaws will also act as the primary all-rounders.

R Ashwin missed a few games in England. However, in India, he will be one of the first names on the team sheet. While he is sure to make a mark with the ball, Ashwin will be interested in yet again showcasing his batting skills to improve the chance of making it to the XI in SENA nations.


Bowlers: Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma

Team India might play only two pacers against New Zealand. Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav are likely to be preferred in the first XI. Both are experienced on Indian pitches and for an experienced Kiwi batting line-up including the likes of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor, Ishant and Umesh will be useful picks. Of course, India can make use of Mohammed Siraj but the management might want to keep him fresh for the South Africa Tour.

Nesara V Jagannatha

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