‘Windy Wellington’ was always going to present a stern test to the Indian side and they found it the hard way as they were blown away inside four days by New Zealand in the first outing.
It will be a hard grind but the Virat Kohli-led side will hope for a massive improvement in the second and final Test at Hagley Oval, in Christchurch as they look to level the two-match series.
Ground details and team combination
The numbers at Hagley Oval clearly show this venue is a bowler’s paradise. Since the start of 2017, this has been the best ground for bowlers amongst all venues in New Zealand. They have returned a wicket every 10 overs with batsmen only managing 31.6 runs per wicket.
In New Zealand overall and Hagley Oval, in particular, pacers have been miles ahead of their spin bowling counterparts. Fast bowlers have picked up 88.9 percent of wickets here since 2017 at a strike rate of 55.9. So, it goes without saying that fast bowlers should be the theme of your team.
What should further scare the Indian side is that the top four wicket-takers at this venue in Tests are all playing this game and are all part of the New Zealand team. Trent Boult – 37 wickets in six Tests, Tim Southee – 32 wickets in six Tests, Neil Wagner – 23 wickets in six Tests and Colin de Grandhomme – 13 wickets in four tests, have excelled immensely here and will be raring to go.
There could be a few interesting match-ups this Test. Neil Wagner did not play in the first Test and the way he has been going in recent times in the longest format of the game, things are likely to get spicier.
Virat Kohli, in particular, will have to be careful. He averages just 20 against the pacer in Tests and has fallen three times in six innings to him.
Another key bowler in the New Zealand team, Tim Southee will also be a key feature in this lineup. His record against India is spectacular but two players who will have to be really careful against him are Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane.
Rahane has fallen to Southee three times in four innings averaging a lowly 6.7 while Pujara has an average of 8.7 against the medium pacer.
His value in the New Zealand team often is underestimated but there is no denying that Tim Southee is one of the best bowlers in the current setup. The highest wicket-taker for the Blackcaps since the start of 2018, Southee with his swing and seam early on can cause a lot of trouble as the Indians found out in Wellington. The medium-pacer also has a terrific record against India, 34 wickets in 13 innings at a bowling strike rate of 45.4. He will be hopeful of continuing with the same.
The perennial workhorse, Neil Wagner has risen up the ranks over the last few years and is now one of the mainstays of New Zealand’s bowling. He was not available for the first Test but will certainly be included in Christchurch and he is one bowler who could cause maximum damage. It is no secret that Indians do not like short pitch bowling coming their way and Wagner will target that. If he gets on a roll, he is someone who can run through oppositions in no time.
The only shining light for India from the previous game, Ishant Sharma bowled with fire and showed why he is considered as one of the most improved pacers in recent times. The leader of the bowling pack, Ishant has been impeccable over the last year or so. In 14 innings since the start of 2019, Ishant has returned 30 wickets striking every 31.8 balls. He will once again be keen on making inroads early in Christchurch.
While Kane Williamson is a tough nut to crack anywhere in the world, at home he is doubly dangerous. Since the start of 2019, Williamson has scored 522 runs in six innings averaging a towering 130.5. He looked settled in the first Test where he scored a classy 89. Batting has not always proven to be easy in Christchurch and Williamson will like to bring his experience into play.
So, who should you pick in your fantasy team for this encounter? We are going with a combination of five frontline batsmen including the wicket-keeper, two all-rounders and four bowlers.
Mayank Agarwal, Tom Latham, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson (vc), BJ Watling (wk), Colin de Grandhomme, Hanuma Vihari, Neil Wagner, Tim Southee (c), Ishant Sharma, Trent Boult