Cricket: Patel, Boult included in first test lineup

By Kris Shannon of APNZ in Hyderabad

The Black Caps believe they have found the perfect balance in their team to topple India in the first test starting today in Hyderabad.

New Zealand have opted for a three-pronged seam attack which sees Jeetan Patel return to the side as an off-spin option.

Chris Martin is recalled after being dropped for the second test in the West Indies, and he will be joined by fellow seamers Doug Bracewell and Trent Boult.

Captain Ross Taylor pointed to Martin's experience as the catalyst for his recall, and said the veteran's form on their last visit to India - when his second innings haul of 5-63 put New Zealand in position to win the first test - was too hard to ignore.

Conversely, Taylor hoped the young pair of Bracewell and Boult could prove an unknown quantity for the Indian batsmen.

"Until you get out there you don't know how each bowler bowls," Taylor said. "I'm sure there will be a bit of a surprise when they face a few of our bowlers."

Tim Southee and Neil Wagner are the unlucky men to miss out with coach Mike Hesson banking on Boult's ability to swing the ball in overcast conditions.

"We think it's going to swing in a conventional manner to start with and we think he's a good exponent in that area," Hesson said.

The inclusion of the left-armer will also create footmarks into which Patel, set for his first test since late last year, can bowl. Hesson said he had been impressed by Patel's performance in practice and that was part of the reason he had been selected over Hyderabad-born Tarun Nethula.

"Jeetan's arrived, he's in great form and has bowled really well in the nets. He's very aware of what his role is and he complements us well."

Allrounder James Franklin further bolsters the Black Caps' bowling options, with Hesson calling the five-man attack - to be aided by Kane Williamson's tweakers - the best balance available.

Franklin will bat at six while Daniel Flynn, who opened in the Caribbean, will slot in at No 5. That leaves New Zealand with what Taylor described as their first-choice top order.

Brendon McCullum will open the batting with Martin Guptill, while Kane Williamson will come in at first drop followed by his captain. Kruger van Wyk retains the gloves ahead of BJ Watling and will bat at No 7.

This is the first time New Zealand have faced India since the retirements of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, and Taylor said his side was sure to be boosted by the absence of the senior pair.

"The confidence in the group goes up not having to get out Rahul or Laxman, they've scored a lot of runs against us in the past."

Unsurprisingly, India is not exactly short on batting depth and their new look middle order, while perhaps not as solid as The Wall, will still be difficult to break down. Cheteshwar Pujara, 24, has played only three tests but averages above 50 at first class level, while Suresh Raina also boasts a formidable record across all forms of the game.

"Whoever they decide to go with, we'll be attacking them and trying to put them under as much pressure as possible," Taylor said. "Any time when you've only played a few test matches you're under pressure."

New Zealand have not won a test match in India since 1988, but Taylor felt his charges were primed for the challenge.

"India are always tough at home. They're totally different conditions than what we're used to in New Zealand, but something the team are looking forward to and looking to thrive in."

Teams for the first test between India and New Zealand starting today in Hyderabad:

New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor (c), Daniel Flynn, James Franklin, Kruger van Wyk, Doug Bracewell, Trent Boult, Jeetan Patel, Chris Martin.

India (probable): Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Cheteshwar Pujara, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (c), Ravichandran Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav.
APNZ ks

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a4 at 20 Sep 2014 09:31:43 Processing Time: 349ms