Second Test preview: India v New Zealand

A win for India in the second Test against New Zealand in Kolkata will see them regain the number one ICC ranking off Pakistan, but more importantly they will win the series with a game to spare.

India won the first match in Kanpur with relative ease, thanks to spinners Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja's efforts, and both will be looked to do the same at Eden Gardens. There was a worry that Ashwin would be out with a finger injury, but those fears have been soothed.

India have called upon veteran batsman Gautam Gambhir as cover for the match, to replace an injured KL Rahul, and if he plays it will be his first Test in two years. But Shikhar Dhawan will probably be given that batting slot.

The Black Caps are waiting to hear if skipper Kane Williamson is fully fit after contracting a stomach bug, though he is thought to be fine and missed practice on Thursday to get a bit of extra rest. It will be a massive boost for India if Williamson is not well, mind you.

Opener Martin Guptill is at risk of losing his place after a string of poor scores, but with India leading the series, they should stick with his experience rather than risking a shuffle of the order.

The weather could have a bit of a say in the match, if forecasts are correct, with cloud cover predicted for each day and that could help the swing bowlers from both sides. Rain is predicted, at least in bursts, for each day.

But if we're honest, the India spinners will look forward to the grass scuffing off and the deck breaking up, so that they can repeat their Green Park efforts of a few days ago.

Key players

For India, Ravi Ashwin has become vital not only with the ball but with the bat as well. His lower order contributions have already seen him elevated as high as six, and skipper Virat Kohli made a point of saying how valuable Ashwin's batting is for the team's success.

Similarly, the Black Caps have a spinning all-rounder that can bat a bit in Mitchell Santner, who was one of the rare bright spots for the Kiwis in Kanpur. He could again be called upon with the bat if the top order falters.

Last five head-to-head results

2016 First Test: India won by 197 runs in Kanpur
2014 Second Test: Match drawn in Wellington
2014 First Test: New Zealand won by 40 runs in Auckland
2012 Second Test: India won by 5 wickets in Bangalore
2012 First Test: India won by an innings and 115 runs in Hyderabad


India: Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, M Vijay, Umesh Yadav, Gautam Gambhir.

New Zealand:  Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Mark Craig, Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling.


Dates: 30 September to 4 October

Morning session: 09:30-11:30 (4:00-6:00 GMT)
Afternoon session: 12:00-14:00 (06:30-08:30 GMT)
Evening session: 14:20-17:00 (08:50-11:30 GMT)

Umpires: Richard Kettleborough and Rod Tucker
Match Referee: David Boon