After being completely outplayed in Wellington by the Kiwis, India would be keen on a comeback to level the series and finish the tour on a high. India’s position in the World Test Championship (WTC) hasn’t been affected a lot by the loss in Wellington as they were on a winning streak of 7 Test matches, but they would certainly not want another whitewash after suffering the same fate in the ODIs.
From New Zealand’s point of view, what’s more important than just winning this series is for them to get another 60 points and strengthen their position in the WTC points table. The hosts would win the series even if they draw the second Test match, but that won’t be the desirable result for them as a draw will give them only 20 points, as opposed to 60 points which they would get in case of a victory.
There have been a lot of question marks over the ability of the Indian batsmen to handle the bounce and seam. India will have a point to prove as well, as this side takes a lot of pride in performing in different conditions around the world.
Toss will be the key again, as both the teams would want to take advantage of the freshness of the pitch early on.
Date: February 29-March 4, 2020
Time: 04:00 AM IST
Venue: Hagley Oval, Christchurch
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Rain has been forecast on the first and the fifth day of the game and the play might be obstructed for a significant amount of time, however since the playing conditions are likely to be bowling friendly, a result might still be possible in three and a half days. The temperatures will remain in the range of 15-25°C right through the match.
There is no doubt that the pitch at the Hagley Oval will have grass on it and the fact that Christchurch is a windy venue will also help the seamers a fair bit. The surface can be a little slow and the bounce might again be spongy, as it was in Wellington. It isn’t expected to be a very high scoring contest.
India: Although none of the players stepped up to the plate in Wellington, India might still go with an unchanged XI, as they have a very settled Test team and most of the players have proven themselves over a period of time.
Prithvi Shaw failed with the bat on his comeback, but the team management will probably want to give him another opportunity. Rishabh Pant kept well in the first Test and looked assured with the bat as well, although he couldn’t score in big in either of the two innings. He is also likely to retain his spot in the XI.
New Zealand: New Zealand might go with an all-pace attack, as Neil Wagner is available for selection now. Wagner’s replacement Kyle Jamieson was impeccable with the areas he bowled in Wellington.
The Black Caps might decide to leave out their specialist spinner Ajaz Patel to accommodate Wagner. The skipper Kane Williamson, who is a part-time off spinner himself, might roll his arm over if the services of a spinner are required by New Zealand to change the pace of the game at any stage.
If Wellington was any hint, this might turn out to be another tough game for India, but India have got very high skilled players who are more than capable to turn it around under adverse circumstances. It should be a closely fought contest, but New Zealand might emerge victorious again. The prediction is for New Zealand to win the match and seal the series 2-0.
Broadcast details (India)
TV: Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD, Star Sports 3
Online streaming: Hotstar
Also read | New Zealand vs India 2020: Ajinkya Rahane defends Cheteshwar Pujara after poor outing in Wellington