New Zealand’s captain, Daniel Vettori, has indicated that his side are preparing to take two spinners into Wednesday’s first Test at Hamilton. The Wellington offspinner, Jeetan Patel, is set to claim the final place in the starting line-up ahead of Mark Gillespie, who was belatedly drafted into the squad as cover after his fellow paceman Iain O’Brien injured his big toe during net practice on Monday.
“We’re leaning towards two spinners,” said Vettori. “The pitch is a lot drier than it was in the one-dayer, there’s not a lot of moisture, but we’ve got the right to have a look in the morning [and assess] the overhead conditions because we know it can swing here with a bit of humidity.”
Patel, 27, has only played once before in Test cricket. He made his debut on New Zealand’s tour of South Africa in May 2006, where he picked up 3 for 117 in his solitary innings at Cape Town. “He’ll have a few nerves but we’ve prepared him pretty well,” said Vettori. “We’ve given him an indication there’s a high chance of playing two spinners.”
Patel suffered the ignominy of being struck for four sixes in a row by Dimitri Mascarenhas during the Twenty20s, but bounced back well in the first ODI at Wellington, where he took 2 for 14 in 6.4 overs to help bowl England out for 130. “He only played twice in the one-day series, but both times he bowled very well, and he’s also coming off a bit of cricket down in Dunedin,” said Vettori. “He’s had a chance to prepare, rather than being told on the morning of the game, ‘you’re in the team, go get em’.”
Barring a late chance of heart, Gillespie will be released from the squad shortly before the toss as O’Brien is expected to be available for selection for the second Test at Wellington, which starts on March 13. Gillespie recently battled back from a shoulder injury and was unlucky to miss the initial cut after impressing for the New Zealand Select XI during England’s final warm-up match in Dunedin last week. He bowled with fire and aggression to take 3 for 62 in 14.1 overs, as England were bowled out for 131 in their first innings.
“He’s missed out due to injury which is always tough, but I’ve been impressed with the way he’s battled back,” said New Zealand’s captain, Daniel Vettori. “It’s not easy sitting on the sidelines with an injury you’re not too sure of, but the way he fought back into the side with his performances down in Dunedin was pleasing.”
New Zealand’s new-ball pairing of Kyle Mills and Chris Martin will be in need of some confident back-up after the treatment that was meted out to them by their team-mate, Brendon McCullum, during the final of the State Shield in Auckland on Sunday. McCullum, playing for Otago, laid into both men - especially Martin, whose eight overs went for 81 - during a breathtaking innings of 170 from 108 balls.
“The thing with Brendan is he’s always a confident guy so it doesn’t matter what form he’s in,” said Vettori, “but when you see a guy in a purple patch like he is at the moment, it’s a little bit inspirational. We all sat back and watched the State Shield final and just admired what was an amazing innings. Hopefully Chris and Kyle have edited it from their memories.”
McCullum was sure that no lasting damage had been done to their morale. “They know the ground, the pitch and the format was completely different to what we’re going to head into now,” he told The New Zealand Herald. “It was a flat wicket and the boundaries are pretty small. They’re both fantastic bowlers and I’m sure one game won’t affect them too much.”
Source:Cricket NewsMore on:Daniel Vettori, england, England in New Zealand 2008, Iain O Brien, Jeetan Patel, New Zealand, Paul Collingwood
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