The National - News

Rahul joins India missing list ahead of New Zealand Test


Cricket matches keep coming in thick and fast, with India and New Zealand now facing off in a two-match Test series .

The Black Caps had just a couple of days to recover from their T20 World Cup final defeat before they played three T20s in six days, losing to Rohit Sharma’s India 3-0.

The first Test begins in Kanpur tomorrow, and the number of absentees is the biggest talking point.

It will be the first time India have faced New Zealand in whites since their defeat in the World Test Championsh­ip final earlier in the year.

But they will be severely restricted in terms of resources against the No 1-ranked Test team.

The hosts will be without captain and batting mainstay Virat Kohli, who has decided to skip the first Test.

Batsman Rohit Sharma, wicketkeep­er Rishabh Pant and fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have decided to miss both matches.

Yesterday, KL Rahul was also ruled out due to a left thigh muscle strain and replaced by Suryakumar Yadav.

However, what should balance things out for India is the availabili­ty of their ace spinners Ravichandr­an Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel with Ajinkya Rahane as the captain.

New Zealand will be without pace spearhead Trent Boult and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme, but are slightly better placed.

Captain Kane Williamson, who missed the T20 series, faces one of his biggest challenges as the Kiwis have not won a Test in India since 1988.

“They’re one of the great challenges on the Test calendar,” New Zealand coach Gary Stead said. “We haven’t been here since 2016 but we’re certainly looking forward to what’s ahead.”

India ended a seven-match losing streak against the Kiwis across formats during their recent T20 win.

“We have home advantage, but we can’t take New Zealand lightly at all,” India vice captain Cheteshwar Pujara said.

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