Napier: New Zealand has virtually retained their squad that drew against West Indies for the upcoming ODI series versus India and coach Mike Hesson has hailed the decision, saying the selection continuity is a welcome change for the Black Caps.
The 13-player squad, which drew the series 2-2 against the Caribbeans, was more or less retained with reserve batsman Colin Munro, who will return to play for his provincial side, being the only omission. But with very little time between the two home series, Hesson said it was necessary to retain the squad, particularly the batting line-up, which has seen plenty of changes in the past two years.
"It's something that we've struggled to do, especially in the shorter form and especially at the top of the order," Hesson was quoted as saying by New Zealand Herald. "We've had a lot of injuries and had to rotate a lot of different guys, so to be able to give Jesse (Ryder) and Martin (Guptill) a good opportunity to string a number of games together (is positive)."
The consistency in selection means there is healthy competition in New Zealand's pace department with Mitchell McClenaghan, Tim Southee, Kyle Mills and Adam Milne fighting it out among themselves for a spot in the playing eleven. "We've got four good quicks vying for three spots in that first ODI (against India)," Hesson said.
"So it'll be a good discussion to have. I look forward to it." Mills, who turns 35 in March, could be under pressure to retain his place, particularly with the rise of young prospects like Trent Boult, but Hesson said the veteran pacer would be given ample opportunity to prove his worth against India.
Hesson backed the 23-year-old batting sensation Corey Anderson to prosper against the Indians, after his world-record innings against the West Indies in Queenstown last month. "He's definitely a little bit fatigued and I think this next couple of days rest will be a good break for him," Hesson said.
"But he's excited about India, as everyone is, so there might be a time during the series that he doesn't play and that's just a matter of managing his loads really," he added. Anderson (131 not out) scored the fastest ODI century, off just 36 balls, against the West Indies, eclipsing the record of 37 balls set by a 16-year-old Shahid Afridi in 1996.
The five-match ODI series between India and New Zealand will be followed by a two-Test rubber between the two sides, starting February 6.