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New Zealand may play two spinners in Napier

March 25, 2009 14:44 IST
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Batting time will be key to New Zealand levelling their Test series against India on a McLean Park pitch that is likely to produce plenty of runs when the second Test begins in Napier on Thursday.

New Zealand were thrashed by 10 wickets within four days in the first Test in Hamilton and must at least secure a draw to stop the tourists from claiming their first series win in New Zealand since 1968, before next week's final Test in Wellington.

The hosts were bowled out for 279 twice at Seddon Park, lasting less than a day in their first innings and just over three sessions in their second, while India's powerful batting lineup ground out 520 in 152.4 overs in their first innings.

"The longevity of the Test match game is what's catching us out," New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori told reporters in Napier. "We do things well for maybe a session or two but we're not doing it well enough for four or five.

"That's what the good teams do.

"India played so well in that first Test, they seemed to win every key moment."


Vettori said he and coach Andy Moles are "leaning" towards including off-spinner Jeetan Patel to partner him in a twin-spin attack with an out-of-form Kyle Mills the most likely to drop out of the playing eleven.

The wicket at Napier is not likely to have any substantial grass on it after a late decision was made by groundsman Phil Stoyanoff to move it to another part of the wicket block.

He had originally hoped to re-seed the same wicket used in the second Test against West Indies last December.

"I top-dressed it but I didn't quite get the grass growth I wanted so I moved the track over to the right hand side," Stoyanoff told reporters.

"It's had a lot of rolling and it's really, really hard."

Stoyanoff said the wicket would offer the seamers some early assistance then flatten out to a "belter", which could play into the Indians' hands if New Zealand do not bowl well.

New Zealand batsman Daniel Flynn is to undergo a late fitness test after being struck in the hand during the first Test, with Jamie How joining the team in Napier and likely to slot in if Flynn is ruled out before the toss.

India arrived in Napier on Wednesday from Auckland and had just the one practice session.

"We've had one good hard [practice] session and we are ready for the game," captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said.

"We have achieved the first milestone, now it's important to play the same kind of cricket in the second and third game."

Dhoni said his side would retain the same team that won so convincingly at Seddon Park.


New Zealand (probable) - Daniel Vettori (captain), Tim McIntosh, Martin Guptill, Daniel Flynn/Jamie How, Ross Taylor, Jesse Ryder, James Franklin, Brendon McCullum, Iain O'Brien, Jeetan Patel, Chris Martin.

India - Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel.

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