Batsmen and Wicket-keeper in India’s Squad for the Three-Test Series v New Zealand 2016 (Review, Part 1)

India’s Test squad v New Zealand for the three-Test series beginning on the 22nd of September, 2016, in Kanpur, has no changes, in terms of incoming players, from the squad which was picked for India’s tour of West Indies 2016.

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India are all set to embark on a long home season which will see them play 13 Tests, eight One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and three Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) over the course of the next six months. England (five), Bangladesh (one) and Australia (four), in that order, visit India after New Zealand, who have arrived in the country and are scheduled to play a three-day warm-up game (September 16th – 18th) against Mumbai in Delhi before the start of the three-Test series.

The 13 Tests India will be playing in the upcoming home season, equals the record number of Tests played by India during a home season: in the 1979-80 season, India played 13 Tests, winning four, losing one and drawing eight. 13 is also the most number of Test matches to have ever been played in a single home season, with India being the holders of that record too.

The Indian selection committee met in Mumbai on Monday (September 12th), with Virat Kohli also a part of that meeting, to pick India’s Test squad v New Zealand. The Indian selectors, led by Sandip Patil, ostracised Shardul Thakur and Stuart Binny from India’s 17-man squad for the four-Test series in West Indies and retained the other 15 members for the three-Test home series against the Kane Williamson-led New Zealand.

India’s Test Squad for New Zealand Test Series 2016: Kohli (C), Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul (Gautam Gambhir), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Mohammed Shami.

Here is part one of Cricfooty’s review of India’s 15-man squad for the home Tests against New Zealand, who lost their last Test series assignment, against South Africa (1-0), before arriving in India.

Review of India’s Test Squad v New Zealand 2016 (Part One)

In spinner-friendly conditions back home, India will not be needing a whole lot of seamers and so, from that viewpoint, axing Binny, who can be a useful seamer on green seamers, and Thakur, a fast bowler, does make sense. However, let us go through the 15 men who have been picked and will be picked from by Kohli, for the India v New Zealand 2016 Test series.

On that note, a related article you might want to read:

What Sort of Pitches Should India Play on During Their 2016-17 Home Season?


Seven proper batsmen have been picked in India’s 15-man Test squad v New Zealand and six of them might well play in Kanpur.

On that note, a related article you must read:

Anil Kumble on the Nature of Indian Pitches and How He Expects Them to Behave for the New Zealand Tests

M Vijay: Was an automatic selection as the leading opening batsman in the Indian Test side. The Tamilnadu batsman was, bizarrely, not picked in the Indian playing XI for the St Lucia Test against the West Indies, after he had recovered from the thumb injury picked up in the Antigua Test. Vijay, with no pressure but with the responsibility of providing good starts, will look to score heavily against the touring New Zealanders, following the less satisfactory scores in his last four Test innings: 5, 12, 3, and 7.

On that note, a related article you must read:

What was India’s Playing XI for the St Lucia Test, which M Vijay Missed?

S Dhawan: A batsman who has become easily replaceable, the Delhi southpaw was not a doubt to be picked in India’s Test squad v New Zealand, however, he may well not be part of India’s playing XI for the Kanpur Test against the Blackcaps. Owing to technical flaws and natural tendencies, S Dhawan’s life as an Indian Test cricketer has been tough and his lack of consistency has seen him miss four of India’s last 18 Tests.

KL Rahul: Fast becoming one of the mainstays of India’s Test batting line-up, the Karnataka batsman has enjoyed an exceptional 18 months across all three formats of the game. With M Vijay fit and ready to play, KL Rahul will partner the 32-year-old right-hander at the top of the order, in the first Test against New Zealand.

On that note, a related article you must read:

Five Indian Players Who Exceeded Expectations at IPL 2016

C Pujara: Another player who was not a doubt to be picked in the Indian squad for the New Zealand Tests but has seen his Test career go downhill over the last two years, the Saurashtra batsman, I feel, needs to have a good series to save his Test career. He will likely play at the Green Park and has a huge challenge on his hands, to come up with the goods. Pujara scored heavily in the 2016-17 Duleep Trophy and his 166, 31 and 256* were instrumental in India Blue going on to lift the trophy. The 28-year-old will look to carry this form into the first Test against New Zealand.

A related article you must read:

What Does Cheteshwar Pujara Need to Do to Revive His Stalling Test Career?

V Kohli: Was infuriated by his team’s inability to pick six West Indies wickets on the final day of the Jamaica Test, in which a victory will have seen India take a 0-2 series lead into the third Test.

On that note, a related article you must read:

Why Were India Unable to Pick the Final Six West Indian Wickets and Close Out the Jamaica Test?

India, who were the No. 1 ranked Test side during the significantly rain-affected Trinidad Test but then lost the same to Pakistan because they could not win the Test series against the West Indies 0-3, will want to have a good home series against Williamson’s men and return to the summit of the ICC Test rankings. India, as things stand, will need to beat New Zealand by a margin of at least 1-0, to become the top-ranked Test side. That, you can be rest assured, will be one of the bigger priorities for Kohli and Kumble.

A Rahane: A mainstay in the Indian Test batting line-up, the Mumbai batsman will have a crucial role to play in the Indian middle order, needing to counter what can expected to be a spin-heavy New Zealand bowling attack.

Rohit: “Rohit is a fabulous player, immense talent he has got, but he hasn’t got a longer run in Test cricket”, were the words of Sandip Patil, after announcing India’s Test squad v New Zealand on Monday.

Although partially true, is Sandip Patil’s assessment of Rohit’s Test career so far, the Mumbai stylist has not done enough to warrant a regular place in the Indian Test line-up. And, we can even go to the extent of saying that if Pujara had kept scoring runs during 2014 and 2015, just as the Saurashtra batsman had in the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Rohit might well not have played at least six Tests, which have come in Pujara’s absence in India’s playing XI, in the last 19 months.

In home conditions, Rohit will probably bat at No. 6, at least in the Test series opener against New Zealand, and he will want to repay the faith the team management has kept in him and also do justice to his “immense talent.”

A related article you must read:

Why Rohit Sharma Has Continually Struggled in Test Cricket?

W Saha: Just as question marks started raising about the Bengal wicket-keeper batsman’s contribution with the bat to the Indian Test side, Saha came up with three good scores in the four innings he got to bat in the West Indies. His 40, 47 and 104, an innings which helped India recover from a dire position and gain the upper hand in the Gros Islet Test, must have given him a lot of confidence. His batting and wicket-keeping will be keys to India’s success at home over the next half-a-dozen months.

Part two of our review of India’s Test squad v New Zealand continues here.

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