Former India opener Aakash Chopra questioned left-arm pacer Neil Wagner’s exclusion from New Zealand XI in the ongoing second Test in Mumbai, as he reviewed first day’s play. Wagner, who is ranked sixth among Test bowlers currently, had not featured in the series opener in Kanpur either.
Ajaz Patel and Tim Southee were the only two New Zealand bowlers, who managed to put India under pressure on Day 1 of the Mumbai Test, with the former accounting for each of the four wickets to fall including the big one of Virat Kohli, one which turned out to be a rather controversial one.
India slipped from 80/0 to 80/3 just before lunch, but the lack of pressure thereafter meant that they could finish strongly at 221/4 by the end of day’s play. All-rounders William Somerville and Rachin Ravindra were treated with disdain, especially by centurion Mayank Agarwal, who struck 14 fours and four sixes, as he walked back unbeaten at 121.
Aakash Chopra questioned Neil Wagner’s inclusion, given the quick has been one of Blackcaps premier match-winners in recent years.
"Why no Wagner? You're not playing Somerville as a batter, right? Because if you bowl with Somerville, the Indian batters will smash him all round the corner,” Aakash Chopra said on his YouTube channel.
“Rachin Ravindra is a part-timer. Ajaz Patel was the only bowler to put pressure on the Indians. Not including Wagner was a mistake in my opinion.
"Neil Wagner - perhaps it was a no-brainer in the previous game itself. Out of the 17 wickets that India lost in the previous game, 14 of them were taken by pacers. They had to play Wagner on a bouncy Mumbai pitch. There's sideways movement, swing and pace on Wankhede. Captaincy was 50-50 for me with regards to team selection and even with bowling changes."
The former India Test opener was in all praise for Agarwal, who he felt has been the best player of spin for the hosts.
"Mayank told everyone with his ton that 'Main hoo Na' (I am here),” said Chopra. “He has now scored four tons, all of which have come to India. However, the importance of this one is immense because prior to this game we all were discussing that Mayank would be the scapegoat and would be dropped. He played spin really well. In fact, among all the Indian batters, he has been playing spin the best."