NEW DELHI: New Zealand will begin their World Test Championship title defence in the Two-match series against India, with the first Test scheduled to be held in Kanpur from Thursday. The second match will be played in Mumbai from December 3.
New Zealand claimed the inaugural WTC trophy in June after defeating India in the final. However in Tests played on Indian soil the story is very different. In 34 Tests in India, NZ emerged victorious only on two occasions, while 16 have ended in a draw. In the last two series – in 2016 and 2012 – they lost all the matches.
TimesofIndia.com here picks the top Kiwi players to watch out for in the upcoming Test series:
Kane Williamson (Captain)
After being rested for the T20I series against India, Kane Williamson will return to lead World Test champions New Zealand in the Test series. Williamson, who has established himself as one of the most successful captains across formats, will certainly look to inflict a first ever series defeat on India in their own backyard.
The second-ranked Test batsman in the ICC rankings, Williamson has been New Zealand’s batting mainstay since he made his debut in 2010 against India in Ahmedabad. The right-handed Williamson has a great record in the longest format, amassing 7230 runs in 85 matches at an impressive average of 53.95. In fact he is the only NZ batsman to have a fifty plus average in Test cricket (at least 1000 runs or more). He has 24 hundreds and 33 fifties to his name so far in Test cricket.
Kane Williamson (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
He also became the first Kiwi batsman to get to 20 Test centuries in 2019 with an unbeaten double ton against Bangladesh at home. However, he hasn’t really been at his best against India, scoring 829 runs in 12 games at an average of 39.47.
It’s not just his batting prowess that won him praise from all quarters, his calm demeanour on the field also makes him one of the most respected cricketers in the world.
Kane Williamson overall stats in Tests: M 85 | Runs 7230 | HS 251 | Avg 53.95 | 100s 24 | 50s 33
Kane Williamson against India in Tests: M 12 | Runs 829 | HS 131 | Avg 39.47 | 100s 2 | 50s 5
Veteran Kiwi batsman Ross Taylor will return to international action for the first time since the WTC final five months ago. The 37-year-old Taylor is New Zealand’s highest run-getter in Test cricket with 7564 runs under his belt from 108 matches. He has so far scored 19 centuries and 35 half-centuries in the longest format of the game.
The right-handed Taylor also played a crucial role in New Zealand’s WTC title by scoring 47 not out in the final against India. But overall he has not made any big impact as such against India in Test cricket, managing to score 870 runs so far in 15 matches.
Ross Taylor (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)
Taylor, who can take on any bowling line up in the world, believes playing India in India is one of the toughest challenges for any side.
“I think there is no harder assignment than playing India at home or Australia away. They are probably the two toughest challenges in Test cricket at the moment.”
“But as a group we are looking forward to that and we know we are the underdogs, but we will be looking forward to putting in a good performance,” Taylor said.
Ross Taylor overall stats in Tests: M 108 | Runs 7564 | HS 290 | Avg 45.84 | 100s 19 | 50s 35
Ross Taylor against India in Tests: M 15 | Runs 870 | HS 151 | Avg 34.80 | 100s 3 | 50s 1
Neil Wagner will head into the series against India without ideal preparation. Just like his team-mate Taylor, Wagner too didn’t get to play any competitive cricket after the WTC final in June this year. The Covid-19 outbreak prevented him from playing in the first class Plunket Shield competition.
Neil Wagner (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
Wagner has the ability to swing the ball even in unhelpful conditions. He also has reverse swing in his armoury that makes him one of the more complete bowlers in Test cricket currently.
The left arm medium fast bowler has so far taken 229 wickets in 54 Test matches with best figures of 7 for 39.
The 35-year-old Wagner has played just six Tests against India so far in which he has managed to take 21 wickets.
Neil Wagner overall stats in Tests: M 54 | Wickets 229 | BBI 7/39 | Avg 26.40 | 5w 9 | 10w 0
Neil Wagner against India in Tests: M 6 | Wickets 21 | BBI 4/62 | Avg 28.42 | 5w 0 | 10w 0
Kyle Jamieson burst onto the international scene in an emphatic manner taking 46 wickets in his first eight matches with five five-wicket hauls. He made his Test debut against India last year in Wellington and since then has become one of New Zealand’s frontline bowlers.
Kyle Jamieson (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
One of the tallest fast bowlers in the world, at six feet 8 inches, Jamieson is known to frustrate batsmen with his awkward bounce. The 26-year-old right-arm pacer has in fact fared remarkably well against India so far, taking 16 wickets in three Test matches and would like to continue his good run on his maiden trip to India.
Kyle Jamieson overall stats in Tests: M 8 | Wickets 46 | BBI 6/48 | Avg 14.17 | 5w 5 | 10w 1
Kyle Jamieson against India in Tests: M 3 | Wickets 16 | BBI 5/31 | Avg 13.00 | 5w 2 | 10w 0
After a dismal T20I series, Daryl Mitchell will look to make amends in his first ever Test series against India. His Test career got off to a good start as he scored 232 runs in his first five matches with a high average of 58.
He is yet to play against India in the longest format and was not initially scheduled to be part of the upcoming series either. Mitchell replaced the injured Devon Conway in the Kiwi Test squad.
Daryl Mitchell (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Mitchell became an overnight star after he blazed his way to an unbeaten 47-ball 72 in New Zealand’s successful run-chase of 167 against England in the T20 World Cup semi-final earlier this month.
Daryl Mitchell overall stats in Tests: M 5 | Runs 232 | HS 102* | HS 58.00 | 100s 1 | 50s 1
Mitchell Santner and Rachin Ravindra
New Zealand left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner is eagerly waiting to grind down the Indian batsmen on spin friendly tracks in the Test series against India. The 29-year-old Santner, who is a white ball specialist, has not seen much success in Test cricket. He has just 41 wickets to his name in 24 Test matches so far.
Mitchell Santner and Rachin Ravindra
A lot of people might not know that Rachin Ravindra was named after two of India’s biggest cricketing legends – Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. He is a hard-hitting left-hand middle-order batsman and left-arm orthodox bowler. He is yet to make his Test debut and will be eager to make his mark if given a chance in the series.
Micthell Santner overall stats in Tests: M 24 | Wickets 41 | BBI 3/53 | Avg 45.63 | 5w 0 | 10w 0
Mitchell Santner against India in Tests: M 3 | Wickets 10 | BBI 3/60 | Avg 52.40 | 5w 0 | 10w 0