India won the toss Thursday and elected to bat against New Zealand in the first test meeting between the countries since the final of the inaugural World Test Championship.

New Zealand won the WTC final in Southampton by eight wickets in June, and this two-test series against India marks the onset of its title defense.

For India, this is the first home contest in the new championship, which will culminate with the final in 2023.

India is starting the series without regular skipper Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, who have been rested for workload management.

Ajinkya Rahane will lead India in Kohli’s absence. This is also a first test assignment for new coach Rahul Dravid, who started his tenure with a 3-0 win over the New Zealanders in the preceding Twenty20 series.

Shreyas Iyer was selected to make his test debut for India, while Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal have returned to the XI after a long lay-off.

For New Zealand, skipper Kane Williamson returns after skipping the T20 series and batting allrounder Rachin Ravindra was selected to make his test debut.

Neil Wagner missed out after the Black Caps opted for a three-spinner combination. Will Young will open the innings in place of injured Devon Conway.

Meanwhile, India won the fourth consecutive toss against New Zealand. Jimmy Neesham was not happy with the outcome of the toss.

“Can somebody take a closer look at those coins please? #INDvNZ,” Neesham tweeted. Earlier, Rohit Sharma had called it right on three occasions in the recently concluded T20I series.

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