|Player:||MS Dhoni, DL Vettori|
|Event:||India in New Zealand 2008/09|
DateLine: 17th March 2009
India will face New Zealand in the upcoming Test series starting on Wednesday. With Sachin Tendulkar appearing to be over a stomach strain that restricted his limited-over appearances, and the injection of fellow legends Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, New Zealand will have their task cut out. Having won the One-dayers 3-1 India start as firm favourites to win their first Test series in New Zealand in 40 years. Although the green tinge on the Seddon Park wicket will give the bowlers hope on the opening session the pitch should favour the batsmen for the remainder of the five days.
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni prefers to bat first but said he would wait until the toss as the weather conditions could influence his final decision. Whether New Zealand bat first or second, the pressure is on their bowlers to perform if the match is to be competitive. They will be looking for the pace in the wicket they enjoyed in Auckland on Saturday when they had their sole One-day success.
However, the New Zealand attack, which is expected to be led by the recall of the experienced Chris Martin, cannot afford any loose deliveries or they will be punished. Sehwag averages 51.06 from his 66 Tests, while around him are the veteran trio with impressive averages, and nicknames to match. Tendulkar averages 54.27 from 156 Tests, while Dravid is at 52.28 from 131 Tests and VVS Laxman averages 44.45 from 102 Tests.
The New Zealand Test squad includes two newcomers, bowler Brent Arnel and One-day top order specialist Martin Guptill, while James Franklin and Martin have been recalled. Left-armer Franklin is in as an all-rounder, covering for Jacob Oram, and the New Zealand camp said he is more likely to be used as a batsman than a bowler.
Of the seven Test series between New Zealand and India played in New Zealand, India won the first in 1969 while New Zealand have since won four and two have been drawn. However, New Zealand rank a lowly eighth in Test cricket, while in-form India are third and their last two series have seen them beat England and Australia at home on the sub-continent, although Dhoni said he did not concern himself with statistics.
India : G Gambhir, V Sehwag, RS Dravid, SR Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (capt and wk), Harbhajan Singh, Z Khan, MM Patel, I Sharma, KD Karthik, DS Kulkarni, M Vijay Krishna, A Mishra and L Balaji
New Zealand : TG McIntosh, MJ Guptill, LRPL Taylor, JD Ryder, DR Flynn, BB McCullum, DL Vettori, KD Mills, JEC Franklin, IE O'Brien, CS Martin, JS Patel and BJ Arnel