Prime Sports, Cricket, International and National, Wellington (NZ), February 20:- Team India captain Virat Kohli boasts of being the number one ranked Test player and he would be looking to further consolidate his position at the top when he takes the guard on the swinging and bouncing pitches of New Zealand. Kohli, who was nowhere close to his best in the recently-concluded ODI series, will be hungry for runs but will it be easy for him?
Guess not! As Neil Wagner, the 2nd ranked Test bowler in the world would eye to raise the bar further and continue making name for himself. Hunting a big fish like Kohli will only increase his reputation. The 33-year-old Wagner has bloomed late but he is making up for it, taking 43 wickets from 6 Test matches in 2019.
This only happens to be the starter on the menu which has many more mouth-watering contests on the cards.
For example, the Kiwi captain Kane Williamson, who is ranked 4th in the Test batsmen rankings, has just 1 hundred and a fifty in his last 10 innings. That means the new Mr Cool of international cricket would do all it takes to get amongst the runs but it will not be easy for this classical batsman as well.
The Indian pace attack is a force to reckon today. Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami are in the top-10 of bowling rankings, Ishant Sharma is 19th and Umesh Yadav is hovering around the border of top-20 Test bowlers as he sits at the 21st spot.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane are other two India batsmen in the top-10 of ICC Test rankings for batsmen. While 9 Test matches old Mayank Agarwal is sitting on the 12th spot. If it was not for Rohit Sharma’s injury, India would have had 5 batsmen inside the top-20 rankings.
Talking about New Zealand, wicket-keeper-batsman Tom Latham, who smashed 3 tons in 2019, 99-Test veteran Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, and BJ Watling rank 15th, 16th, 17th, and 20th respectively.
Interestingly, only one New Zealand batsman and bowler are there in the top-10 rankings. Pace spearheads Tim Southee and Trent Boult are ranked 15th and 18th, respectively.
Pacers have dominated the Test rankings recently and only three spinners have made their way in the list of top-20 bowlers out of which two are from India.
While off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is the only spinner in top-10, Ravindra Jadeja is 17th on the list, just behind Nathan Lyon, the third spinner in the list of best 20 Test bowlers.
That means, India and New Zealand together have 9 batsmen in the top-20 list while 8 bowlers out of the best 20.
India’s tour of New Zealand started with a bang as the visitors whitewashed the hosts 5-0 and became the first team to do so in a bilateral T20I series. The happiness was short-lived as the Kiwis completed a 3-0 drubbing in the following ODI series and handed India its first ODI whitewash since 1997.
In Tests, India is the number one ranked Test team while New Zealand is behind Australia and England, at the 4th spot.
In the World Test Championship India has won its all 7 matches and is at the top of the table with 360 points, whereas New Zealand is at the 6th position. The Kiwis have lost 4 of their 5 matches in the inaugural tournament, whose final will be played in Lord’s in 2021. (MR, Inputs: Agencies)