Cricket: Luke Ronchi no longer one test wonder

By David Leggat

New Zealand's Luke Ronchi, right, plays a shot on the third day of their cricket test match against India at Green Park Stadium in Kanpur, India, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. Photo / AP.
New Zealand's Luke Ronchi, right, plays a shot on the third day of their cricket test match against India at Green Park Stadium in Kanpur, India, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. Photo / AP.

Luke Ronchi never gave up hope of leaving New Zealand cricket's 32-man club.

When the chance came in Kanpur he was ready, and 32 is now 31. Ronchi played his second test against India in Kanpur and so leaves the group of New Zealand cricketers to have won just a solitary test cap.

It seemed for a time that Ronchi's fine debut test, against England at Leeds last year, might be his lot.

If that had been the case it would at least have been a memorable one - scoring 88 and 31 and helping New Zealand to a fine 199-run win to square the two-match rubber.

Ronchi, recalled on the back of a century against Mumbai in New Zealand's warmup game, made 38 and 80, and looked as comfortable as any New Zealand batsman against India's high class spin attack.

He admitted not keeping wicket, where BJ Watling has a lock on the job in tests, felt strange but he was chuffed to have made his contribution.

''When you get that chance you want to perform, so it was nice to make some runs, but I was disappointed at getting myself out, more so than the bowling getting me out," he said of his second innings heave at left arm spinner Ravi Jadeja just before lunch on the final day in Kanpur.

Ronchi, 35 and a batsman who mixed positive intent with a careful defensive technique, conceded a small part of him had a 'take that' view after having proved himself to the selectors who had made him wait so long for a second chance.

''Yes, in a way. The (selectors and players) know what I'm capable of and you go out and do the best you can to help the team.

''I never gave up hope. I still want to play cricket at the highest possible level. So I don't really think those thoughts that much, but if you can perform it gives you a bit more confidence."

In his four test innings, in vastly contrasting conditions - cold, damp Headingley in May, sticky, sweltering Kanpur in September - Ronchi has made 88, 31, 38 and 80. That's 237 runs at 59.

It's worth remembering Ronchi has scored 15 first-class centuries in 93 matches in Australia and New Zealand, averaging a healthy 39. Only captain Kane Williamson and senior batsman Ross Taylor have made more of the current squad.

Ronchi may not be in for a lengthy test tenure, given his age, but he must have now removed doubts over whether he has the capability of doing a specialist batting job in New Zealand's hot and cold middle order.

India have recalled experienced opener Gautam Gambhir to their squad for the second test, replacing Lokesh Rahul, who injured a hamstring at Kanpur.

The 34-year-old lefthander played his last test in August 2014 when his form was poor.

He averages 42.58 from 56 tests with nine centuries.

India have also included uncapped offspinner Jayant Yadav in place of the unwell fast bowler Ishant Sharma, who missed the first test with the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya.

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