Team India could be on an experiment mode at Kanpur: India’s 500th Test Match, the first of the three-Test series against New Zealand gets underway at the Green Park, Kanpur, from tomorrow (22nd September).
Team India led by Virat Kohli, have in their 15-member squad, the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, M Vijay and Umesh Yadav.
The squad looks extremely balanced with three openers (Dhawan, Vijay and Rahul), four middle order batsmen (Pujara, Kohli, Rahane and Rohit), three all-rounders (Ashwin, Jadeja and Bhuvi), one specialist spinner (Mishra), one wicket-keeper (Saha) and three pacers (Shami, Ishant and Umesh).
Out of the above, Ishant Sharma is a non-starter due to illness.
The expectation of the Green Park surface is that of a ‘rank turner’. In such a situation, India should be weighing the chances of going in ‘spin-heavy’ which might see Ashwin, Mishra And Jadeja in action.
The pitch seems to be dry and having cracks, much to the delight of the Indian camp.
Traditional fast bowling may not get a great fillip, given the fact that the patches of grass on the pitch are too dry and too far apart. However, if the rain gods have a say, then the seamers might just about get to smile.
According to Shiva Kumar, the curator at Green Park, said that based on the Ranji Trophy games, the pitch would be good for batting for the first two days and then it might start turning.
So in all probabilities, the Team India think tank, consisting of the super coach Anil Kumble and the skipper Virat Kohli, could opt for a balanced Playing XI, with five batsmen, a specialist spinner, two spinning all-rounders, two pacers and the ‘wonder-kid’ wicket-keeper.
The likely Playing XI: Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra and Umesh Yadav.
The match begins at 0930 hours.