There are many selection choices to make with limited options. Patel (assuming his plane arrives on time) replacing Craig will strengthen the bowling. But will it weaken an already exposed tail? If you are picking bowlers based on theoretical ability to bat at #8 in a test then you probably don’t have the priorities right.
Anyway, enough of the deck-chair shuffling, the biggest problem is at the top of the order.
There are some options; albeit not a lot of them, because Jeet Raval is currently in some Auckland pre-season camp in Noosa.
Loyalty is a virtue, but surely that line about the definition of insanity has to come into play sooner or later. Guptill is a very good cricketer who has found his niche in white ball cricket.
But he is clearly down on confidence in how to play the red ball. And test cricket in India is hardly the best place to turn that around.
Four more innings of what transpired in Kanpur; seriously, slog sweeping Ashwin on your fifth ball faced, is hardly a promising sign. Protect the white ball talent, because if there is to be a turnaround in form it will not be in this series.
Ronchi to open
No. This would be a classic case of New Zealand cricket adopting the Peter’s Principle.
Ronchi did well in Kanpur because he was picked to do well; playing spin, and playing spin aggressively. If you open you can’t really do either of those things.
Neesham to open
No. Apparently he was considered as cover for this role, but he’s off home.
Santner to open
No. See Ronchi above.
Nichols to open
This is probably the only alternative. But he hasn’t opened at First Class level, and is inexperienced enough in test cricket as it is.
So it is likely to be Guptill again. The aggressive approach is probably the best way to go, given that is where he is most at ease. But no more slog-sweeps against Ashwin when yet to score. Try the lofted straight drive, because that’s the safer option, and is something he’s actually pretty good at.