Our Pick India are favourites to win
India are set to begin their long home season with a three-match test series against New Zealand. The first test will be played on September 22 at the Green Park, Kanpur and live action is scheduled to begin at 9:30 AM local time. The hosts won their previous test series in the West Indies 2-0 while the visitors are coming off the back of a 0-1 series loss to South Africa. New Zealand are yet to win a test series in India and this Kane Williamson-led side will be eying this series as a good opportunity to change this history.
Read on for our betting tips and match prediction for India vs New Zealand 1st Test...
Scores, while batting first, have gone in excess of 500 twice in the last three tests at this ground. The Green Park normally offers batsman-friendly pitches with not much pace and bounce. So a good batting track having plenty of runs in it can be expected for this match.
Out of the nine matches here that have produced results, six have been won by the side that has batted first. India batted first in the most recent match against Sri Lanka and won by an innings and 144 runs. Therefore, the team that wins the toss is probably going to bat first.
New Zealand risk being batted out of the contest if India win the toss and bat first. So they would need the toss to go their way and post a strong total if they are to challenge the hosts.
Predicted Score: Around 400
Murali Vijay is more likely to open with KL Rahul instead of out-of-form Shikhar Dhawan. Rahul, who scored 158 and 50 in two of his three innings in the West Indies, could take India off to a steady start. Cheteshwar Pujara recently made 161 and 256* in the Duleep Trophy and he will have an important role to play at number three. Skipper Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane have an impressive test average and either could top-score in this match. If India can see off the morning session without losing more than two wickets, they should be on track for a good total.
Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner will be New Zealand's new-ball bowlers. Of the three, Tim Southee has the most experience of playing test cricket in India. The pacer took eight wickets in the 2012 Bangalore test and he could end up taking the most wickets for New Zealand in this match. Mitchell Santner will be their best spin option. He led his side to victory in the World T20 game against India and the conditions at the Green Park should suit his style of bowling. If New Zealand pick up Kohli and Rahane early on, it should be a big blow for India.
Predicted Score: Around 300
Opening the batting will be Martin Guptill and Tom Latham who were both good against Zimbabwe but had a rough tour of South Africa. Since the opening pair looks slightly vulnerable, New Zealand will be looking at their most reliable batsmen - Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor - to spend a long time at the crease. Both are in terrific form at the moment and chances are that any one of these two could top-score for New Zealand in this match. Henry Nicholls scored 112 runs in the last test against South Africa and he will be the key in the middle order. Williamson, Taylor and Nicholls will need to perform for New Zealand to reach the predicted score.
At home, India rely mainly on their spinners for picking up wickets and once again, it will be up to Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja to do most of the wicket-taking. Among the spin-trio, the Kiwi batsmen will look to bat more carefully against Ashwin who took the most wickets against them in the 2012 test series. Mohammed Shami can be a bigger threat once the ball gets old and starts reversing. If New Zealand lose Williamson and Taylor cheaply, India will have a good opportunity of restricting them to a mediocre score.
A total of 54 tests have been played between the two teams, of which 18 have been won by India and 10 by New Zealand. The remaining 26 matches have all resulted in a draw.
New Zealand have played two test matches against India at the Green Park. The one back in 1976 ended in a draw while the most recent match in 1999 was won by the hosts by eight wickets.
Leaving aside the two wins over Zimbabwe, New Zealand have not won a test match this year against the more reputed sides. They lost both the tests against Australia in a home series earlier this year and are coming from a massive 204-run defeat at the hands of South Africa. Add to this the fact that New Zealand have not won a test match in India in almost 28 years, one would not keep much expectations from them.
India are playing at home and they seem invincible in their own backyard. They have not been beaten in the last 11 tests on their turf and have 7 wins and 3 draws in their previous 10 matches in this format. Their record at this ground is also worth noting as they have lost just 3 out of the 21 tests and their last defeat dates back to 1983 against the West Indies.
Although a New Zealand victory seems far from likely, they still have a good chance of enforcing a draw. The wicket at the Green Park is known for favoring the batsmen more, so if the Kiwis are able to stick in with the bat, we could have a stalemate on our hands.
India were beaten by New Zealand the last time these two sides met in a test match that produced a result. But that happened on the latter's home soil, and here in sub-continent conditions, we feel that India are strong favorites to win this first test.
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