Hyderabad, Aug 22: As Team India gears up to play their first Test of the season against New Zealand at Hyderabad on Thursday, for the first time, India will be missing the duo- Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman in 16 years.
With Sachin Tendulkar being the only experienced batsman in the team, he will have to shoulder more responsibilities as there is a huge void in the team's batting line-up in the absence of VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid.
MS Dhoni's men would have not liked such a start as they will miss the two giants of Indian cricket while they take on New Zealand tomorrow, would also ensure that they perform well.
Cheteshwar Pujara, Suresh Raina and Subramaniam Badrinath in contention for the two slots, looks like Raina and Pujara will make the cut.
Virat Kohli, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir playing at their regular positions, India would like to get some good partnerships from the middle-order.
Moreover, slip fielding is posing a worry for the Indians as the main slip fielders, best at job have retired from international cricket.
Apart from batting and fielding woes, Team India faces more problems with bowling. Ishant Sharma is making a return to the Test side after recovering from an ankle injury. He hasn't played international cricket since the series against Australia earlier this year which might pose a worry.
Moreover, he has only 21 wickets from 11 games last year which would be another reason for concern as he failed to perform in good conditions.
But Ishant has expressed his confidence playing New Zealand, and there are more expectations from the lanky pacer as he is the second most experienced pacer in the team after Zaheer Khan.
With Pragyan Ojha, R Ashwin almost certain, Umesh Yadav or Ishant Sharma would take the second pacer's slot as Zaheer Khan is a certainty.
With the pitch assisting bounce, which would likely assist the spinners, MS Dhoni would like to take a look at the pitch on Thursday morning before taking a call on the final XI.
On the other hand, New Zealand who have lost a series to West Indies before heading to India, would like to get the momentum back as they take on the hosts at Hyderabad on Thursday.
According to Ross Taylor, skipper of New Zealand, India doesn't seem to be a different place as most of the Kiwis are familiar with the conditions here having played the IPL.
With Daniel Vettori ruled out of the first Test, New Zealand might miss him as the track would assist spinners the most.
Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum are the only two experienced players as the team's batting sorely depends on them while Doug Bracewell will be leading the pace attack, whilel Young Boult is expected to be the dark horse.
Promising to fight back, Kiwis cannot be taken lightly.
India: MS Dhoni (Captain, Wicket-keeper), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina/Badrinath, Cheteshwar Pujara, Umesh Yadav/ Ishant Sharma, Zaheer Khan, R Ashwin, P Ojha
New Zealand: Ross Taylor (Captain), Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson, Mark Guptill, K van Wyk (wicket-keeper), Jeetan Patel/T Nethula, T Boult, Chris Martin, Tim Southee, BJ Watling, D Flynn