By BV Swagath
The Second and Final Test between India and New Zealand will begin tomorrow at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. India will be eyeing a 2-0 cleansweep in the series having embarrassed the Kiwis in the Hyderabad Test with a big innings victory. New Zealand will have to play out of their skins to even drawing a Test in India for now but then the weather at Bangalore is so inclement that the possibility of a stalemate cannot be ruled out.
A glance at the Indian Team: India had a perfect match in Hyderabad with Cheteshwar Pujara claiming the no.3 spot with a long knock. Virat Kohli showed that he is good in all forms of the game. The only young gun who missed out was Suresh Raina which means that the southpaw would be determined to come good with a big knock in this Bangalore Test. At the top of the order, Virender Sehwag seems to be due for a special knock of his. The Kiwis better watch out for it. And of course, there is a young man in the middle order by the name – Sachin Tendulkar, who will be keen like anybody else in the line-up to score big. I thought Cheteshwar Pujara may miss the Second Test after taking a smashing blow on his knee while fielding at shortleg. Fortunately, Pujara will make it for tomorrow’s Test although his knee will not be 100% healed.
In the bowling department for India, R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha dominated the Kiwis completely. Umesh Yadav was hardly given any overs and he looked pretty penetrative. The only soft option in the bowling attack at Hyderabad was Zaheer Khan with the left-armer failing to pick up any wickets. Zaheer was bowling well within himself in the Hyderabad Test and not quite putting in a 100% but then it wasn’t required against a fragile batting line-up of the Kiwis. MS Dhoni could try out Ishant Sharma by giving a break for Zaheer Khan ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 and the Test Series that follow it.
A glance at New Zealand: The Kiwis were ordinary in the first Test with the bat. They hardly made India work hard for their wickets except for a period in the second innings on Day 4. For the tourists, a lot depends on Brendon McCullum to bat long. There were signs of that in the second innings of the Hyderabad Test before Brendon got a shocker of an lbw decision off Umesh Yadav’s bowling. Again, Kane Williamson and James Franklin with their lovely patience to keep on defending will be expected to defy the Indian bowling. As far as the Skipper Ross Taylor is concerned, there is no real promise from him to deliver any big knock. Taylor in both the innings of the Hyderabad Test looked absolutely clueless against the turning and bouncing ball.
The bowling of the New Zealanders was alright with plenty of scope for improvement. Jeetan Patel can bowl a lot slower in the air and let the ball to grip the surface. Doug Bracewell has the ability to bowl a lot better than he did while Chris Martin and Trent Boult did a fine job in the first Test.
Pitch and Weather Conditions of the M Chinnaswamy Stadium: The conditions at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore in general have been conducive for seam bowling. The pitch is known to have a bit of grass to assist pace, bounce and lateral movement. The Bangalore pitch may not take the kind of turn that the Hyderabad pitch took but the bounce should interest the spinners. Having said that, the pitch at the Chinnaswamy Stadium might have been under-prepared to favour a result and rule out any chances of a draw. Unfortunately, we are going to witness some bad weather in the five days of the Test match. The forecast is for thunderstorms throughout the Test Match and like in Hyderabad, we will be lucky if Bangalore can produce a meaningful match.
India Squad: MS Dhoni (Captain and Wicket Keeper), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, S Badrinath, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, R Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Pragyan Ojha, Umesh Yadav, Ajinkya Rahane, Piyush Chawla, Ishant Sharma, Suresh Raina
New Zealand Squad: Martin Guptill, Daniel Flynn, Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor (Captain), Kane Williamson, BJ Watling (Wicket Keeper), James Franklin, Kruger van Wyk (Wicket Keeper), Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Tarun Nethula, Jeetan Patel and Chris Martin