Head coach Ravi Shastri is confident a two-nil series win over New Zealand will keep India on course for a berth in the final of the Test Championship at Lord's in London in June 2021.
India are currently at the top of the 2019-21 Test Championship with 360 points. Australia are their closest rival in second position with 296 points. India, too, currently occupy first position in the International Cricket Council's rankings for Test teams.
They will contest two Tests against New Zealand in Wellington and Christchurch this month. The year will also include the T20 World Cup for India. They have been priced at 4.50 by bet365 to win the T20 World Cup in Australia.
“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,” the Times of India quoted Shastri as saying.
“The other is to play like the world's number one 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 will be without opening batsman Rohit Sharma for the Tests in New Zealand. He has been sidelined by injury. The inexperienced Prithvi Shaw and uncapped Shubman Gill are in competition to bat at the top of the order alongside fellow opener Mayank Agarwal.
Shastri talks about Gill and Shaw
“Both Shaw and Gill are supremely exciting talents. 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,” added Shastri.
“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.
“They're all from the same school, you know. They love facing the new ball, enjoy a challenge. 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.”
Gill, Shaw and Agarwal will play in the Indian Premier League later this year. Gill is with the Kolkata Knight Riders, Shaw represents for the Delhi Capitals and Agarwal is part of the Kings XI Punjab squad.