Skipper Kane Williamson’s initial small squad of nine New Zealanders spent a little over one hour at the Brabourne Stadium, Cricket Club of India (CCI) on a dull and humid Saturday morning. They confined their activity to catching practice and playing an intense physical game that resembled the Indonesian sport Sepak takraw, deploying their head, chest, hands and legs and sending the ball across a row of plastic chairs that divided two teams comprising the players and support staff.
The ground staff had kept the nets ready, but the tourist — with Craig McMillan as its batting coach — decided against doing anything more than a short warm-up, that involved the game. They were waiting to know about the candidates from New Zealand A squad, who would join them for the series against India.
By noon, the New Zealand selectors announced the full squad for the tour during which it will lock horns with the home team in three one-day internationals and as many Twenty20 matches, all in a time span of 17 days.
The selectors chose six players from the New Zealand ‘A’ team that will complete its engagements with a final one-day match at Visakhapatnam on Sunday. Williamson’s team will begin the tour with two warm up games against the BCCI President’s XI at the Brabourne Stadium here on October 17 and 19.
India will play the limited-over series against New Zealand before a full series against Sri Lanka involving three Tests, as many ODIs and Twenty20 matches. After making a clean sweep of the away series in Sri Lanka, the home team led by Virat Kohli called the shots in the five-match ODI series against Australia, with wrist spinners of right and left hand variety in Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, baffling the Australian batsmen and taking 13 wickets.
Chahal and Yadav would be waiting for a duel with a highly competitive group of New Zealand batsmen in Williamson, opener Tom Latham, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor and Colin Munro; Williamson and Latham scored in excess of 200 runs that helped their side compete with India in the last year’s series which it lost 2-3, folding for 79 in 23.1 overs with leg-spinner Amit Mishra ending with flattering figures of 5 for 18 in six overs in the final rubber.
Williamson’s team has not played an international game since the ICC Champions Trophy in England; and the last game it played there against Bangladesh at Cardiff was made memorable by Shakib Al Hasan’s scintillating 114 and Mahmudullah’s unbeaten 102 that enabled the Asian team to pull off a great win after being 33 for 4, chasing 265. But now, the Kiwis are in a country where it proved to be a worthy opponent last year.
New Zealand squad (ODI)
Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, George Worker
New Zealand (Twenty20 squad)
Kane Williamson (Captain), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Tom Bruce, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee
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