India vs New Zealand Test Series: Tim Southee finds Indian openers ‘classy’, team formidable even with injury clouds

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Updated: February 20, 2020 11:35:35 AM

The Virat Kohli-led team had an option of retaining KL Rahul in New Zealand given his rich vein of form in the just-concluded ODI and T20I series, but they opted to reward Prithvi Shaw and Shubhman Gill for their performances in red-ball cricket.

The Indian top-order will have to cope up with the pace trio of Boult, Southee, and Wagner in Basin Reserve, Wellington. (Picture: BCCI, Twitter)

Team India might be without one of their preferred openers Rohit Sharma in the upcoming test series against New Zealand starting Friday but for Tim Southee, the blackcaps’ ace pacer, they still have enough firepower at the top of the order.

“They are missing a couple of guys due to the injury but there are plenty of guys who are talented and capable of stepping up when required. They had a good outing in Hamilton. Although, they may be inexperienced at the same time, they are class players,” news agency PTI quoted Tim Southee, as saying in a brief interaction with the press. He, however, didn’t miss the chance to issue a warning to the formidable Indian batting line up ahead of the first match.

“Obviously, these are home conditions and it favors us. But there are a number of things that you need to do well here at the Basin Reserve and India will have to get used to it in the next three days,” Southee said

The Virat Kohli-led team had an option of retaining KL Rahul in New Zealand given his rich vein of form in the just-concluded ODI and T20I series, but they opted to reward Prithvi Shaw and Shubhman Gill for their performances in red-ball cricket. Both Shaw and Gill are relatively new to the international arena, but few doubt their batting credentials.

Prithvi Shaw had made a belligerent start to his Test career, hitting a daddy hundred in the debut test match against the West Indies in 2018. He was deemed as the next big thing of the Indian cricket after his heroics in the Under 19s cricket World Cup. A misfortune in Australia, just before the Border-Gavaskar trophy halted his career when he twisted his ankle in the warm-up game. Adding to his misery, he found himself in a quagmire of doping and was subsequently banned by the BCCI for 8 months.

On the other hand, Shubhman Gill has had a very subdued start to his ODI career at the senior level. In the two matches he played on the tour to New Zealand last year, the Indian Under 19 star could manage only 16 runs. He was selected for the home test series against South Africa and Bangladesh but couldn’t break into the playing XI.

When Rohit Sharma was ruled out of the test series after sustaining a calf injury in the ODI series, it opened the doors for Shubhman Gill who was knocking the selectors’ doors with truckloads of runs. In the recently concluded India A tour of New Zealand, Gill amassed 423 runs at an astounding average of 211.5, scoring 83, 204, and 136 runs in the three innings. However, in the warm-up game leading into the first test match scheduled to start on February 21, both Shaw and Gill had a torrid time and was dismissed for a duck.

The Indian top-order will have to cope up with the pace trio of Trent Boult, Tim Southee, and Neil Wagner in Basin Reserve, Wellington where bowlers get help from high-intensity wind across the ground. The Kiwi pace trio has a remarkable record on their home grounds and Indian batsmen, especially the top order will have their task cut out against their prowess.

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