India's tour of New Zealand has been neck and neck as far as the bragging rights are concerned. While India scripted a historic whitewash against New Zealand in the five-match T20I series, the Blacks Caps avenged it in the ODIs, writing their own piece of history with a clean sweep. It is now time for the most-awaited duel - the two-match Test series - starting February 21 at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. And before the contest kicks off, we present to you a statistical preview of the two teams in the format, in the rivalry and in the two venues along with a few records waiting in line to be broken.
India enjoy dominance against New Zealand, but not in New Zealand
Since the first Test series between the two nation in the fall of 1955, India have won 11 contests against New Zealand while four ended in a draw. And since 2003, India have won seven Test matches against New Zealand, lost only one (in 2014 tour) and drew seven remaining.
However, India's amicable relation with victory in this very contest takes a complete turn when matches are played in New Zealand. Away from home, India have not won only five matches in nine series, their last victory coming under MS Dhoni in 2009.
India in New Zealand...
|1981||1-0 (3)||New Zealand|
|1990||1-0 (3)||New Zealand|
|1998||1-0 (2)||New Zealand|
|2002||2-0 (2)||New Zealand|
|2014||1-0 (2)||New Zealand|
Although strangely, New Zealand do not share a very large share of victories at home against India. They have won only eight of the 23 encounters. 10 ended in a draw - which is 43.76 per cent of the matches.
But keeping aside this rivalry, New Zealand have lost only one Test match at home since November 2016. They won 11 of the 17 matches they have played in this period with five ending in a draw. Their only defeat had come against South Africa in March 2017 in Wellington.
Numbers worsen the situation for India at both venues
India have played seven matches at the Basin Reserve, the venue for the opening Test match, and have won only once, back in 1968. Since then, they lost four in a row and drew twice. New Zealand, on the other hand, have lost only twice at this venue since the start of 2011 while winning five of the 11 matches played during the period.
Meanwhile, India are yet to play their first international match at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch, the venue for the second Test. New Zealand team have played six matches in Christchurch, winning four and losing only once.
New Zealand, not the best nation for Kohli's overseas toss strategy
Win the toss, opt to bat first - that has been Kohli's strategy in overseas Test matches. Of the 10 matches he has won the toss and opted to bat first, India have won eight, drew two and lost none. A reversal of the situation and India lost eight out of those 11 matches, drew three and won none.
Well, numbers have favoured team batting first in a Test match since the beginning of 2016 - 109 wins and 55 defeats of 188 matches. However, in New Zealand, the only nation to have witnessed this change, team batting second have won more matches than in any other nation - 11 wins and 5 draws of 19 matches since 2016.
Moreover, in New Zealand, average runs scored per wicket in the first innings is 42.16 since 2016, the third-highest among nations to have hosted more than 15 matches at home. And it rises to 46.90, the best under the same criterion.
Adding to Kohli's dilemma, pacers reap better rewards in the open innings than in the second - averaging 26.08 and taking wickets every 48.7 deliveries with eight fi-fers.
India, look out for New Zealand's pace trio
The combination of Neil Wagner, Trent Boult and Tim Southee have combined Test wickets of 439, only second-most in history after South Africa's Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini and Jacques Kallis (539). Moreover, in their head-to-head ties against India's three mainstay batters - Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane - the pacers dominate the contest.
|Virat Kohli||Cheteshwar Pujara||Ajinkya Rahane|
But India have Ravichandran Ashwin
In five Tests he has played against New Zealand, Ashwin has picked 45 wickets at 15.91 and a strike rate of 31.4 - his best against any opponent. Moreover, he has dismissed both of New Zealand's mainstay batters - Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor - five times each. However, the offie is yet to play to make his debut appearance in the format in New Zealand.
- One more century and 31-year-old Kohli will have the joint second-most number of international centuries alongside Australia's Ricky Ponting (71), most international centuries as a captain surpassing Ponting's tally of 41, and will become the first Asian captain ever to have a Test century in the all the SENA nations.
- If India win at least one of the two matches, Kohli will become the first Indian captain to have secured at least one win in all the SENA nations.
- A series win will make Kohli the third Indian captain after MAK Pataudi (1968) and Dhoni (2009) to script a Test series victory in New Zealand.
- Ross Taylor is set to become the first player ever to play 100 matches each across each formats.