NZ, India Test teams under wraps in windy Wellington

2020-02-20 08:32
Kane Williamson
Kane Williamson (Getty Images)

Wellington - The notorious Wellington wind and a green wicket delayed team selections as New Zealand and India weighed up fickle conditions for the first Test on Thursday.

India have confidence in their batting but captain Virat Kohli was deliberating how best to approach bowling at the New Zealand capital's breezy Basin Reserve ground.

"Wind in this stadium more than any other in the world plays a massive, massive role," Kohli said.

New Zealand also departed from the usual practice of naming their team a day early as they ponder the state of the wicket.

Skipper Kane Williamson said a final decision would be made after a late inspection before Friday's toss.

Williamson indicated Kyle Jamieson would make his Test debut in place of Neil Wagner, who is on paternity leave, leaving New Zealand to choose between their one specialist spinner - Mumbai-born Ajaz Patel - and all-rounder Daryl Mitchell.

Wellington's Basin Reserve traditionally offers a green strip which assists the quick bowlers early on, and supports spin later in the week. But Williamson detected a different feel this year.

"It's weighing up what will be the biggest threat from the options that we have... it's a slightly different-looking surface than we're used to," Williamson said.

Groundsman Hagen Faith doubts there will be much in it for the spin bowlers.

"From a perfect point of view we would like to see the spinners come into play but we've got a nice grass coverage out there and I'd be surprised to see any sort of drastic turn," said Faith.

Kohli was weighing up "who bowls with the wind, if the breeze is blowing across the stadium, who's more effective with the in-swinger, the out-swinger? - these are the kind of things you need to think of as captain".

India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane is well aware how changeable conditions can be at the Basin Reserve, even with its 'bowl-first' reputation.

He scored his maiden Test century at the Basin in 2014 when India bowled New Zealand out for 192 on day one, before building a 246-run first-innings lead and then having New Zealand on the ropes at 94 for five in their second innings.

But when the sting left the pitch, Brendon McCullum and BJ Watling put on 352 for the sixth wicket for New Zealand to salvage a draw.

Rahane said the current India squad, who have won their last seven Tests since a 2-1 series win over Australia a year ago, should be competitive this time with a 320-plus first innings.

"You have to trust yourself, trust your ability you cannot doubt yourself, especially playing in these windy conditions," he said.

"First innings, first session, if you can play that session really well even if you get 320-330 in the first innings outside India it's a very good total," Rahane added.

The two-Test series follows an honours-even white-ball build-up in which India won all five Twenty20s and New Zealand cleaned up in the three one-dayers.


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