Head coach Ravi Shastri sounds affirmative when he says that India will not hold back come the two-Test series against New Zealand and are eager to play like the “No. 1 Test team in the world” in a bid to book a place in the final of the World Test Championship at Lord’s in 2021.
India are currently leading the WTC rankings with 360 points having all their seven matches so far. With six overseas Tests this year, India are seeking another 100 points which promises to assure them of a place at the home of cricket in the final.
“We need 100 points to be in contention to play at Lord’s. Two overseas wins out of six Tests will keep us in good stead. We play six Tests overseas this year (two in NZ and four in Australia). So, that’s one objective,” Shastri told the Times of India. “The other is to play like the world’s No. 1 Test team – because that’s what this team believes in more than anything else. On the Test front, that’s what we’re looking at.”
India, after whitewashing New Zealand 5-0 in T20Is, were swept 0-3 in ODIs, a series which captain Virat Kohli said was not of too much significance considering it’s the year of the T20 World Cup. As for Tests, India are already without Rohit Sharma, which opens the place of either Prithvi Shaw or young Shubman Gill to partner Mayank Agarwal.
“Both [Shaw and Gill] are supremely exciting talents,” Shastri said. “Regardless of who gets into the XI in Wellington, the fact of the matter is they’re here, part of India’s national squad, and from here on they should know that the sky remains the limit.”
“He [Gill] is phenomenally talented. His approach to batting is very clear and he exhibits a very positive mindset. That’s very exciting for a boy who’s just 20 going on 21.”
Shaw had promising starts in all three ODIs, scoring 20, 24 and 42, while Agarwal was a bit of a disappointment with 36 runs from three innings. Even during the ongoing practice match in Hamilton, Shaw, Agarwal and Gill endured collective failures with the three batsmen combining for 1 run, but Shastri isn’t too worried with one poor score.
“They’re all from the same school, you know. They love facing the new ball, enjoy a challenge,” Shastri said. “Rohit is unfortunately out so that puts Shubman and Prithvi in contention to open with Mayank. That competition is necessary and that’s what makes a bunch of 15 look strong and stable.”