More air miles await New Zealand's cricketers with another trip to India next month. And with it, there will be visits to rarely-seen cities as they play six limited-overs internationals against India.

They might be wary of a couple.

For instance, the last of three T20s will be in Thiruvananthapuram, the near-unpronounceable capital of the southern state of Kerala. It has never hosted an international before.

Time was when itineraries to the sub-continent would be scoured for hints of an impending stitch-up in terms of the pitch provided, especially if it appeared at a potentially crucial part of the schedule.


New Zealand have played one international in Rajkot, location for the second T20, an ODI in 1999. It was also the scene of one of Richard Hadlee's most memorable performances, nine for 55 off 24 overs against West Zone in the opening game of the 1988 tour. And unlike his other "nine-fer" in the celebrated test win at Brisbane, he did take the first nine, only to be denied by a solitary John Bracewell wicket at the end.

New Zealand have made three visits to Kanpur, each time for a test, most recently last year's 197-run defeat. Pune, venue for the second ODI, will be a third visit, after a five-wicket ODI loss in 1995 to India and a two-wicket loss to Australia 14 years ago.

By the time New Zealand's players get to the last two matches of the summer, tests against England, unless they have an ox-like constitution, they'll be heartily fed up with one-day cricket.

Take out the two tests against West Indies at the start of December, and New Zealand will play 24 successive ODIs or T20s, and unless you have a true affection for the short form versions, it shapes as a depressing summer for fans of the test game.

The A squad to tour India next month was named yesterday and it's likely that some will stay on for the senior visit. That's more likely to be about four players rather than, say, eight.

And that makes performances with the A group of particular significance, especially for the wicketkeeping trio Tom Blundell, Tim Seifert and Glenn Phillips.

"Playing against India in their home conditions is widely accepted as one of the toughest challenges in cricket," national coach Mike Hesson said. "There were some good performances last year when we forced a decider and we're determined to improve again and be competitive."