Kohli declares Wriddhiman Saha fit for second NZ Test

Published December 3, 2021
India's Shikhar Dhawan helps his teammate Wriddhiman Saha button up his jersey. — Reuters/File
India's Shikhar Dhawan helps his teammate Wriddhiman Saha button up his jersey. — Reuters/File

MUMBAI: India wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha has recovered from a neck problem and is available for selection for the second and final Test against New Zealand, captain Virat Kohli said on Thursday.

Saha was unable to don the wicket-keeping gloves on the final day of the first Test in Kanpur due to a stiff neck with K.S. Bharat taking his place behind the stumps during the drawn Test.

“Saha is fit as of now and he has completely recovered from the neck niggle or spasm that he was suffering from,” Kohli told reporters before the Wankhede Stadium Test starting on Friday.

Kohli himself skipped the three-match Twenty20 series and the opening Test against New Zealand to take a rest.

While Kohli’s return will be a welcome boost for India’s batting, it will also leave them with a selection headache.

In Kohli’s absence, Mumbai batter Shreyas Iyer made a dream test debut with a first-innings 105 followed by a crucial 65 in the second in Kanpur.

Calls have grown to drop either Ajinkya Rahane, who led India in Kanpur, or Cheteshwar Pujara -- both of whom have been short of runs -- to vacate a spot for Kohli and allow Iyer to retain his place.

Unseasonable rain in Mumbai has also meant that both teams have not been able to practise outdoors since Wednesday and the weather conditions could have an impact on the team selection, according to Kohli.

“We will discuss our combination. The change in weather and the change in conditions have to be taken into account,” he said, adding that he expected the Wankhede Stadium pitch to have something on offer for batters and bowlers.

“But we also can’t assume that the weather will remain the same for the next five days. So we have to have a combination which can adapt to any change.”

New Zealand have never won a Test series in India, let alone a Test match since the 1988-89 tour.

The top-ranked Black Caps, who beat India in a June contest in Southampton to win the inaugural World Test Championship, have a chance to make history with a win in Mumbai.

“We gained a lot out of our efforts in Kanpur [Test],” New Zealand’s pace speahead Tim Southee said. “We’re just looking forward to a new challenge here in Mumbai.”

Squads:

INDIA: Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Suryakumar Yadav, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Wriddhiman Saha, KS Bharat, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna

NEW ZEALAND: Kane Williamson, Tom Blundell, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Daryl Mitchell, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Will Somerville, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Will Young, Neil Wagner.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2021

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