Black Caps burning question: Will there be changes for the second Test against India?

Will Somerville had a big role to play with the bat as the Black Caps played a draw with India in Kanpur, but his lack of threat with the ball could mean he drops out for the second Test.

Altaf Qadri / AP

Will Somerville had a big role to play with the bat as the Black Caps played a draw with India in Kanpur, but his lack of threat with the ball could mean he drops out for the second Test.

OPINION: The Black Caps have never won a test series in India, but they have the chance to do just that over the next five days.

They escaped the first Test in Kanpur on the tooth and lost nine second innings-wickets before bad light stopped the game on the final day.

It was a tipping point of a match, and with 197-1 in their first innings and with India 51-5 in their second innings, they missed chances to really hit the hammer down.


Black Caps spinner Ajaz Patel spoke ahead of the second Test against India in Mumbai.

A draw was worth celebrating, especially in the situation where Ajaz Patel No. 11 and debutant Rachin Ravindra saw the last nine overs, but now they have to go a better one.

* Last act of the Black Caps’ busy year, a shot at history against India in Mumbai
* Mumbai homecoming for Ajaz Patel as Black Caps chase rare test win over India
* History favors spin, but Neil Wagner may get Black Caps nods for the second test
* Black Caps vs India: Test cricket’s glorious magic, clutter and mystery

Prior to the start of the second test [Friday 5pm NZ time], Thing Cricket writers have taken a stab at some of the burning issues.

Should there be any changes in Black Caps XI?

HE: Yes, Neil Wagner in for Will Somerville. It was a bit surprising that the selection unit chose the high off-spinner for the first test, even when it was expected that Kanpur’s Green Park would be a spin-friendly wicket. New Zealand’s policy in recent years – which has been accompanied by an incredible success rate – has been to put their best XI ahead of how a wicket can play unless the latter factor was irresistible. That should be the case in Mumbai – Wagner has 229 test wickets at 26.40; Somerville has 15 out of 39.

AV: Wagner should come in for Somerville. There was a stretch during the first Test where Kane Williamson went more than 50 overs at the end of India’s first innings and the start of their second with only Tim Southee, Wagner and Ajaz Patel, which said it all.

BE: The black caps could have done it with the tireless Neil Wagner in Kanpur and he must get on the side of Will Somerville, who went wicketless in the first test. There is talk that there could be a little more in the wicket, for the sailors in Mumbai and New Zealand could choose to pick up Daryl Mitchell for Rachin Ravindra, who helped save the first Test on debut. Mitchell could provide some useful overs and would strengthen batting.

If Ross Taylor and Henry Nicholls fight the bat again, could one of them be dropped for the home test’s first test if Devon Conway is in good shape?

IA: Yes. Conway is a first-choice if fit, and Young has done extremely well in its rare options and appearance test class, but the selection team does not make changes easily. Nicholls scored two big tons at home last summer – with a little luck on his shoulders – and averages 41.21. Taylor has not earned a fortune since his double century against Bangladesh in Wellington two years ago and has since averaged 36.95. But one of NZ’s biggest batting players would be our most played player if he plays the first three home tests, and that would inevitably increase the pressure on voters to keep him.

AV: No. Assuming Conway’s finger comes right, Young will go back to being an overqualified reserve, for now anyway. Races should be plentiful against Bangladesh at home in early January, so if anyone can not cash in there, it could ask for a reconsideration before South Africa hits our shores in February.

BE: It’s hard to see Taylor or Nicholls being dropped for the home test’s first test. Coach Gary Stead is particularly loyal to his players, as Mike Hesson was before, and players are not just discarded because of a few failures. They will definitely come to feel the pressure if they fail again in Mumbai, but it would be hard to see them discarded. If Conway is healthy, it would be Will Young who would likely make room at the top of the ranks.

What is the most likely result from the second test?

IA: If winner. The first test was a roller coaster ride, but the hosts had taken over for the most part, but the bowling of Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson and NZ’s fighting skills denied them. Skipper Virat Kohli’s return will strengthen India’s batting, and the story greatly favors the host. A draw would be a wonderful achievement by the guests.

AV: If wins. But the Black Caps’ performance in the first Test – especially on days two and four – confirmed that this is the best New Zealand side to tour India for the best part of a decade. However, it is such a difficult place to visit that they still ended up hanging on and India will be determined not to drop a home series for just the third time in this century.

BE: With Indian captain and master batman Virat Kolhi returning to the hosts, they should win the second test and claim the series. India were not at their best with bat or toast in the first Test and a rebounding performance is inevitable under home conditions. A 0-0 draw or a first triumph in the New Zealand Test series in India would be a nightmare result for new coach Rahul Dravid.

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