Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 October 2020

New Zealand target sixth straight home Test series win, India desperate to avoid another whitewash

Poor form of Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah biggest worry for visitors

Jasprit Bumrah, left, Virat Kohli and the India squad were due to play four Test matches and three one-day internationals Down Under. AP 
Jasprit Bumrah, left, Virat Kohli and the India squad were due to play four Test matches and three one-day internationals Down Under. AP 

The stakes will be high for both sides when New Zealand host India in the second Test in Christchurch, which will mark the end of a harrowing tour for the visitors.

The Kiwis will be aiming for their sixth consecutive Test series win on home soil while the Indians will look to avoid their second straight whitewash.

The tour started with India as the favourites in all formats against an injury-ravaged New Zealand side but as the tour has moved along, the hosts have dominated Virat Kohli's side.

The Kiwis lost from seemingly winnable position in three matches during the T20 series before getting back on track during the 3-0 ODI series win. Then in the first Test, they outplayed India on a greentop in Wellington to nearly pull off an innings win against the top-ranked side.

For India, the poor form of Kohli – one fifty in nine innings in New Zealand – and pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah – one wicket in last five innings – has left too big a hole to fill and if that continues to be the case in the second Test, the Blackcaps will be celebrating another comprehensive win.

For the hosts, the only real issue is the batting position of in-form all-rounder Kyle Jamieson. Jamieson took 4-39 in the first innings and then scored a crucial 44 the 10-wicket win in the opening Test.

He is almost certain to retain his place despite the return of Neil Wagner, who missed the Wellington game due to the birth of his first child.

"What you saw with Kyle is that he has the capability to bat higher," coach Gary Stead said. "The way he played I thought was outstanding. He did a really good job for us."

Meanwhile, India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane said his batsmen need to be a lot more positive in Christchurch.

"It's important to trust ourselves and not think about the last test match," Rahane said. "We just have to have fresh mindsets and it's all about being in the present."

India were unbeaten in their seven previous matches in the new World Test Championship and lead the standings on 360 points. Rahane said it was imperative to win in Christchurch and continue their march to the final at Lord's in 2021.

"We all know that 60 points are at stake," Rahane said. "If we win the Test match then we will be far ahead of second-placed Australia. It's not always about winning the Test series."

Updated: February 27, 2020 11:41 AM

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