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Without warm-up, can run-machine Virat Kohli shine in New Zealand Tests?

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After sweeping an all-important T20I series 5-0 and losing the ‘irrelevant’ ODI series 0-3 to New Zealand, India are all set to resume their World Test Championship (WTC) campaign against the hosts in a week’s time.

In what has been a glorious start to their World Test Championship campaign, India have won all their 7 matches and are sitting pretty at the top of the table with 360 points, 64 points more than 2nd-placed Australia who have played 3 more games than the Asian giants.

However, India head into their 1st major test of the WTC campaign against New Zealand who haven’t lost a Test match at home since March 2017.

After letting their pace attack run riot in the West Indies, India were ruthless at home. A fine run so far has seen them sit pretty on top of the WTC table.

India vs New Zealand XI, practice match – Day 1 Report

India will certainly carry the confidence of having dominated in whites in the recent past and the historic series win against Australia as they head into the much-anticipated 2-match series.

However, it is hard not to see past the concerns surrounding the Test side at the moment. While injury concerns to members of the much-talked-about pace attack and lack of experience at the top are among them, Virat Kohli’s uncharacteristic tour so far is a major talking point.

For the cricket world that is so used to seeing Virat Kohli break records at will, the India captain’s performances in the ongoing tour have come as a bit of surprise.

In 7 innings, Virat Kohli has gone past fifty only once in New Zealand. With scores of 45, 11, 38, 11, 51, 15, and 9, Kohli has had a lean patch by his standards on this tour.

If anything, the way Virat Kohli batted and got out in the final ODI earlier this week should raise alarm bells. The India captain was uncharacteristically desperate and threw his wicket away while slashing at a wide one way earlier than he should have.

The run-machine Virat Kohli has certainly been missing in New Zealand.

On Friday, Virat Kohli literally did not turn up to bat on Day 1 of the 3-day warm-up match against New Zealand XI. India struggled. Their top-order was blown away on a green track at Seddon Park in Hamilton. As usual, Cheteshwar Pujara led the rescue. As usual, Hanuma Vihari fought his way to a hundred. As usual, Rishabh Pant threw his wicket away. The lower-order collapsed.

Despite the poor start to the practice game, Virat Kohli did not walk out to bat on Day 1. He had an extended session at the nets, reportedly facing throwdowns and Navdeep Saini even as the top-order was being troubled by Scott Kuggelin.

It remains to be seen if India will bat again in this warm-up match. It remains to be seen if Virat Kohli will bat even if India bat again. Nonetheless, the visitors will want their skipper to turn up when they are facing New Zealand pacers in whites at the Basin Reserve next week.

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