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India vs New Zealand: Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill out for a duck as they battle it out for opener's slot in 1st Test

India vs New Zealand: Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill out for a duck as they battle it out for opener
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Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill got out without scoring a run on Day one of the practice match against New Zealand XI on Friday.

Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill got out without scoring a run on Day one of the practice match against New Zealand XI on Friday.

On the day when Indian head coach Ravi Shastri confirmed both Gill and Shaw are in contention to bag the second opener's lot in the first Test, both the batsmen failed as the Indian team struggled to adapt the red-ball conditions at Seddon Park, Hamilton.

The Indian team lost three batsmen – Shaw, Mayank Agarwal and Gill – as they were reduced to 5 for 3 in6.2 overs before they lost their fourth man at 38 for 4. Indian Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane was dismissed for 18 runs from 30 balls in the 16th over. However, the likes of Cheteshwara Pujara and Hanuma Vihari brought back India's innings on track as they put up 195 runs for the fifth wicket. While Pujara missed out on a century as he got out for 211-ball 93, Vihari reached the triple-digit score.

Speaking about Gill and Shaw's chances in the upcoming first Test against New Zealand, Shastri said," Both 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.

They're all from the same school, you know. They love facing the new ball, enjoy a challenge. Rohit is unfortunately out (with a calf muscle injury) 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 looks strong and stable."

Now that Gill and Shaw both failed on Friday, it is still not clear who would open with Agarwal in the first Test. After Vihari's 101 from 182 balls, it won't be surprising if the Indian team ask him to open in Hamilton. Vihari has opened before – against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) – where he had scored only eight and 13 runs. Even though he did not contribute much with the bat, he had stayed at the crease for 80 minutes in the first innings and then close to an hour in the second and that earned him the deserving praise from skipper Virat Kohli.

Even on Friday in the practice match while he did not face the new ball, there was still bounce and seam when he came out to bat at No. 6 and he played carefully with close-to-body technique and that helped India wonderfully at 38 for 4.

At stumps on Friday, Vihari made it clear that while the team management has not asked him to open yet, he will be ready to do so if necessary.

"As a player, I am prepared to bat anywhere. As of now, I've not been informed [of] anything. As I've said before as well, if the team requires me to bat wherever, I am ready to bat," Vihari said after India were bowled out for 263 in 78.5 overs.

The first Test between India and New Zealand is set to begin on Feb. 21. The limited-overs series recently concluded where the Indian won the T20Is 5-0 before the hosts whitewashed Kohli and Co 3-0 in the ODIs.

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