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Windy Wellington, a challenge for bowlers

It was a compelling net session. Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma bowling full tilt at Virat Kohli on a surface that resembled a green astroturf pitch. Every time Kohli was beaten, it irked him, but the competitive contest slowly turned into a knowledge-sharing session.

The chief communicator was Ishant. The lanky pacer would constantly discuss the length, the angles and how he deceived the Indian captain. Ishant, who is returning from an ankle injury that he suffered during a Ranji Trophy match four weeks ago, bowled non-stop for over an hour on Wednesday without any grimace or discomfort.

The pace trio of Ishant, Bumrah and Shami have played in 10 Tests, taking 142 wickets of the potential 192 wickets at an average of 20.59. If Ishant is ruled out, then Umesh Yadav will get a look-in. The other key decision is whether to pick Ravichandran Ashwin over Ravindra Jadeja. The surface at the Basin Reserve has plenty of grass and is not known to deteriorate. But the strong wind forecast during the Test match will assist drift, making Ashwin’s loopy off-spin more threatening than Jadeja’s flat trajectory.

Prithvi Shaw will partner Mayank Agarwal, while Hanuma Vihari is set to bat No. 6. Wridhiman Saha wil don the gloves, leaving Rishabh Pant to warm the bench. New Zealand’s preparations have been thrown into disorder with Neil Wagner possibly missing the Test due to the birth of his child. If Wagner is ruled out, lanky Kyle Jamieson is likely to make his debut.

The windy conditions are also set to play a pivotal role. Wellington is the second windiest city in the world and bowling into the stiff breeze at the Basin Reserve can be a daunting task.

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