India look to avenge WTC final loss with inexperienced line-up led by Rahane

The last four years will dominantly be known as the Shastri-Kohli era. Their top priority, as very evident, was to uplift the standards of winning in test cricket for India. Rahul Dravid will not have the same captain right away in Kanpur to make plans with and chalk out the strategies, but what is assured is that the strong conviction and drive towards Tests will remain.

Dravid’s permanent coaching term with the senior side began less than a fortnight after India’s embarrassing exit from yet another limited-overs ICC event, symbolically putting improvements in the white-ball format in his to-do list. But with all that India has achieved in the last four years in test format, the demands and the level of expectations in Tests will be a lot more than other formats.

High Expectations from Dravid

India has won 25 of the 43 Tests under Shastri – the win percentage (58.1) nearly unmatched since the turn of the 2000s under every other coach. Only Anil Kumble’s short stint (12 wins in 17 Tests) boasts of better returns, but the significance isn’t as much in comparison. The team under Shastri also built itself up for record away successes and is one win (or draw) away in July to add England to the list of the sides defeated. They finished runner-ups in the WTC final in June but were evidently the best Test side through the course of the cycle leading up to that one game in England.

Dravid will get his chance at glory to add to the away laurels in less than a month’s time when India travels to South Africa where they’ve never won a Test series. But before that, there’s a high demand for ruthless efficiency to be kept going at home, where India has 12 wins in 15 Tests, a single loss, and six out of six series victories under Shastri. That India will be without several regular players and be up against World Test champions New Zealand, won’t affect the preparations much – they already have 26 points in the ongoing WTC cycle, and the expectations will be to add another 24 by December 7.

What the First Test means to NZ

That being said, New Zealand will know all about building absolute fortresses in home conditions. Since the start of 2011, they’ve lost just five of the 43 home Tests – a tally similar to India’s where visiting teams have won four out of 47 games in the same period. The era under Gary Stead since 2018 has also been a bold one, as New Zealand has enjoyed success over Pakistan in UAE and even has a drawn series in Sri Lanka in the records.

A victory in India’s backyard – the first since 1988 – could truly be the most majestic way to kickstart their WTC title defense. New Zealand’s 15-man squad has only got two days of training together but will consider themselves the favorites in Kanpur, where India’s batting will be light on experience and form.








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