Wellington – New Zealand will blood two new players in the second Test against India starting in Wellington Friday as they look to cap a golden summer without star performer Ross Taylor.
Tom Latham replaces the high-scoring Taylor, who will remain at home with his wife due to give birth, while the green wicket has earned all-rounder Jimmy Neesham a start at the expense of leg-spinner Ish Sodhi.
New Zealand, who won the first Test by 40 runs, will take five seamers into the match with Kane Williamson acting as the spin option.
“With this wicket the best method of attack against this Indian side is to roll out another seamer,” captain Brendon McCullum said.
“Neesham's batting is a bit of a bonus but he comes into the frame for his ability to bowl it pretty heavy as well.”
Taylor, who averages 136 from his past four Tests, will be a huge loss and McCullum admitted it was “never ideal” to play two new caps.
But he said both had international experience with Latham, 21, having played 13 one-day internationals and Neesham 11.
New Zealand have been blessed with green wickets in their home series against the West Indies and now India which have allowed their potent seamers to lead them to three victories from four Tests.
They were denied the chance of a clean sweep when rain washed out the last session of the first Test against the West Indies, before bouncing back to win the second in Wellington by an innings and 73 runs.
McCullum said the Basin Reserve wicket for the India Test looks even juicier than the strip used two months ago.
“It looks a little bit greener than what we had against West Indies and looks a bit harder too. We expect a bit of pace and bounce and maybe a bit of sideways movement as well.”
Although New Zealand wickets are not what India experience at home, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni sees positives, especially after his bowlers rolled New Zealand for 105 in their second innings at Auckland in the first Test.
“I personally always like, when we are playing outside the subcontinent, a greener wicket as it assists our fast bowlers and they can get the opposition out which means it will be testing for our batsmen but I always prefer it that way,” he said.
McCullum lost the toss to Dhoni in all five ODIs, which New Zealand won 4-0, and in the first Test. He was philosophical about the prospect of losing again.
“Obviously we'll look to have a bowl if we win the toss. But if we find ourselves batting we have Neesham at eight. We have quite a bit of batting,” he said.
“We've been in some precarious positions having to bat first this summer and we've come through those tests pretty well, so it'll mean one more big effort if we do find ourselves batting first.”
India will announce their team before the toss on Friday.
New Zealand: Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Tom Latham, Brendon McCullum (captain), Corey Anderson, BJ Watling, Jimmy Neesham, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult. – Sapa-AFP