Virat Kohli will
return to lead India in the second Test against top-ranked New Zealand on
Friday, posing a welcome selection dilemma for the hosts.
The Mumbai clash will mark Kohli’s return after he stepped
down as Twenty20 captain at the end of the World Cup last month and took a
Shreyas Iyer’s 105 and 65 in his debut Test, which ended in
a draw in Kanpur against the Black Caps, has made it tough for Indian selectors
to decide on their final XI.
“I think it’s a good problem to have,” Indian
bowling coach Paras Mhambrey said Wednesday.
“We have so much talent — speaks a lot about the state
Indian cricket is in, and with youngsters coming up, we want to give them the
“Someone like Shreyas comes in, gets a hundred and
follows it up with a fifty, and that’s fabulous. But sometimes you also have to
go in with combinations that suit that particular wicket.”
Ajinkya Rahane, who led India in the first Test of the
two-match series, has struggled to score runs and averaged under 20 across 12
matches this year.
Top-order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has made promising
starts but failed to convert them into bigger scores.
“We know that they (Rahane and Pujara) have a lot of
experience behind them, they have played enough cricket,” said Mhambrey.
“We also know as a team that they are one inning away
from coming good, so as a team, we are backing them.
“We know the value they bring to the team.”
Emotional for Patel
New Zealand, the world Test champions after beating India in
the title clash in June, denied the hosts a win in an enthralling five days of
play in the opening match.
The final pairing of Rachin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel survived
in dimming light as gutsy New Zealand held on for a memorable draw.
In Mumbai, Patel returns to his city of birth and where he
played lot of cricket before his parents moved to New Zealand.
The 33-year-old spinner said he looked forward to playing at
Wankhede Stadium, with many of his relatives watching from the stands.
“Definitely it is emotional,” he said.
“I have come to Wankhede and watched a lot of IPL
games… and I bowled to Mumbai a few times in their training sessions. It is
pretty cool and quite nostalgic.”
Patel, who has played 10 Tests for New Zealand since his
2018 debut, said it was the first time his relatives in Mumbai would be able to
watch him play in person.
“Even back home my parents still haven’t watched me
play Test cricket,” said the spinner, who claimed three wickets in the
“Hopefully sometime soon they will be able to come and
watch me as well.”