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Vettori hoping to be fit for the first Test

Vettori hoping to be fit for the first Test

The gash on the spinner's finger could keep him out of the 1st Test.

London: New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori will learn this weekend whether an injured finger will prevent him playing a full role in next week's first Test against England at Lord's.

Vettori has been forced to miss the warm-up match against an England Lions side at Hampshire's Rose Bowl, and the spinner admits he is in uncharted territory with the relatively minor but painful injury he suffered to his bowling hand in a match against Essex at the weekend.

"I'm having the stitches taken out on Saturday or Sunday and I'll know a little bit more then," Vettori said when asked if the gash on the index finger of his left hand could keep him out of the first Test.

"I'm confident, but I've never dealt with this before and it's in the worst possible spot." With the exception of Vettori and the rested seamer Kyle Mills, New Zealand went into the match against an experienced Lions side with virtually a full-strength side, with vice-captain Brendon McCullum standing in as skipper.

Vettori is hoping the warm-up against players of the calibre of seamer Matthew Hoggard and former Test batsman Robert Key, who will skipper the Lions, will help ensure New Zealand's squad do not succumb to nerves when they appear at Lord's next week.

"The quality of the opposition is very high so it's not a case of us being able to meander through a warm-up game and expect to get a result," he said.

"We have to treat this pretty seriously. There's still a lot of competition for Test places. Even though you'd probably say the majority of the team is set in stone for the Test, I still want guys to have that hunger to perform because it's not that easy just to switch it on for a Test match.

"There are going to be a lot of other things going on when we arrive at Lord's, it will be busy and it'll be exciting and if you don't have form under your belt sometimes you can be a little overwhelmed by it."

England's Lions include several players desperate to break into the Test squad with Key, Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara among those vying for recognition in the top order should the present incumbents fail to deliver in the first Test.

Their bowling attack is also impressive and Vettori knows Hoggard, 31, will have a point to prove having been discarded by England after their first Test defeat in New Zealand earlier this year.

"It's important to him that he puts on a performance here and tries to get his Test place back and I know within our team he's a highly-respected bowler," Vettori said.

"We'll respect what he's trying to do and it will be good preparation having a guy with over 250 Test wickets in the bowling line-up, so it's not a case of first-class bowlers trying to break through, it's a proven Test bowler."
first published:May 08, 2008, 11:10 IST