In-form India eye ascent to top in 2nd Test against New Zealand


In the middle of a 12-match unbeaten streak at home, India’s marauding cricket team will be aiming to reclaim the No.1 spot in ICC rankings when it takes on an unsettled New Zealand in the second Test starting in Kolkata at Eden Gardens on Friday.

With 10 wins and two draws in their last 12 matches, India have been unstoppable on home turf in a journey that began with the 1-2 series loss against England in December 2012.

They have begun a packed 13-Test home calendar by inflicting a massive 197-run defeat over the visiting Black Caps in their 500th Test.

Having entered the three-match series one lower than Pakistan, India will also look to reclaim the number one rankings in the ICC Test rankings with a victory at the Eden Test.

India did not put a foot wrong at the Green Park stadium even as Kohli’s bold move to go with a four-strong bowling attack surprised many.

The two Indian spinners — Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja — got fine support from the deteriorating Green Park wicket and they both accounted for 16 wickets.

The spin-mantra to get success at home has not changed even with the new set up under coach Anil Kumble and Kohli.

It will be no different at the Eden track, though the team think tank seems to be wary of the relaid wicket which will be used for the first time.

That means Kohli cannot afford to go with four bowlers on the Eden track which promises to offer spin only after a bit of wear and tear and leg-spinner Amit Mishra would certainly fancy his chances.

That India’s ace spinner Ashwin has a niggle — corn or thickened skin — on the middle finger of his bowling hand can be a worry for Kohli.

“I have a corn on my finger and I haven’t bowled a lot in the last 25 days,” Ashwin had said after the third day in Kanpur.

The 30-year-old off-spinner, playing just his 37th match, finished with match figures of 10-225, his fifth 10-wicket haul and joined the 200-club of Test wickets.

Ashwin, in fact stayed away from bowling at the nets and was seen chatting with the coach before trying out his hand briefly at batting.

Uncapped Haryana off-spinner Jayant Yadav, who was brought in as replacement for Ishant Sharma, is on stand-by if it becomes too painful for Ashwin to play here, something that may upset India’s plans.

The Haryana lad made his way through an impressive show in India A’s recent tour of Australia, picking up seven wickets in the unofficial Tests at 22.57 apiece.

In the 2014-15 Ranji Trophy, he topped Haryana’s bowling charts with 33 wickets, and in March this year, Yadav claimed a match haul of eight against Mumbai in the Irani Cup.