'Kiwis will settle for nothing less than victory'
‘With this wicket, the best method of attack against the Indian side is to roll out another seamer’
New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum says his side will go for the kill in the second and final Test against India to send the visitors home empty-handed from the tour.
The second Test starts at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Friday. New Zealand lead the two-match series 1-0, after winning the opener at Auckland by 40 runs.
McCullum said his team will be going for the jugular to maintain the stranglehold against the struggling Indians.
"We always play to win. That's how we will look to try and operate in this match as well, and, hence, the selections we have made are trying to play to our strengths and we think the pace and the bounce that we will be able to generate from this wicket will play to our advantage," McCullum said at Thursday’s pre-match press conference.
The selection he was referring to was regarding New Zealand’s playing eleven, which has already been named.
Ross Taylor will miss the match owing to the birth of his second child, while Ish Sodhi has been dropped considering the green wicket on offer. Tom Latham will bat at number four and James Neesham will come in for Sodhi; both will be playing their first Test.
Image: Brendon McCullum
Photographs: Getty Images
'I think the pitch looks a little bit greener than what we had against the West Indies'
"We have two debutants tomorrow. Ross's situation is that he is obviously ruled out of this game. Family comes first and Tom Latham will come into replace him. It will be a straight swap and he will bat number four. And we just think with this wicket, the best method of attack against the Indian side is to roll out another seamer, so Jimmy Neesham comes in for Ish Sodhi as well," he said.
"Kane Williamson will be our spin option. But we have got five other bowling options. Hopefully, his role with the ball will not impact too much his ability to bat at number three for us," he added.
This brings the pitch into focus and it is expected to be similar to the one rolled out for the Test versus the West Indies in December. New Zealand won that match by an innings within three days, yet another boost for them.
"I think the pitch looks a little bit greener than what we had against the West Indies. It looks a bit harder as well. We expect a bit of pace and bounce and bit of sideways movement too. Although what worked for us best against the West Indies was the ability for us to swing the ball in the air, so if there's not too much wind the ball seems to swing here.
“That's what is forecast for the next few days and hopefully we will be able to generate that swing and obviously that will be a key attacking weapon for us," said the skipper.
Image: James 'Jimmy' Neesham
Photographs: Getty Images
'We will look to have a bowl if we win the toss'
While India will be looking to win their first match on the tour, McCullum is looking to win his first toss. If he does so, he will opt to bowl first.
"The toss is likely to go against me. But, obviously, we will look to have a bowl if we win the toss. But if we find ourselves batting, with Neesham coming in at number eight, there is quite a bit of batting.
"We found ourselves in some precarious positions having to bat first so far in the summer and we have come through those tests pretty well. We have one more big effort if we do find ourselves batting first on this wicket to make sure we get a competitive total in that first innings," he said.
McCullum was referring to being reduced to 30/3 in the first innings at EdenPark, and it was his double hundred that then took his side to 503 runs. But the Black Caps should also be worried that the Indian bowling got their act together in the second innings and bowled them out for a paltry 105 runs.
"If you are looking at the perfect game, then we wanted more than a 100 in that second innings but the beauty was we had more than 500 on the board in the first innings. I thought they bowled outstandingly well.
Image: http://im.rediff.com/cricket/2014/feb/12kiwi1.jpg Tim Southee (left) celebrates a wicket
Photographs: Phil Walter/Getty Images
'Playing in the IPL will certainly increase Corey's cricket awareness and knowledge'
"MS (Dhoni) mentioned that it was probably the best they had bowled in the last 3-4 years and hence they got the rewards against us. So, I guess those things happen at times and we want to tidy that area up a little bit, there is no doubt in that," he said.
Meanwhile, back in India, McCullum was bought by Chennai Super Kings, while Corey Anderson will turn out for Mumbai Indians in the new IPL season. It was a mixed bag though as several Kiwi players also went unsold.
"Corey is obviously a commodity that everyone wanted and he is an exciting talent for us and I am sure his education that he will get by playing in the IPL will certainly increase his cricket awareness and knowledge in a short space of time. Matt Henry was picked as well.
"It's pretty exciting to see a young guy like that doing well and he is obviously in my team as well, so I am pretty happy about that. It's just a shame a few of the other guys missed out, hopefully they get picked up later today," the skipper said.
Image: Corey Anderson of New Zealand
Photographs: Rob Jefferies/Getty Images