Shane Bond

Recovering pace bowler Shane Bond is confident of being fit for the first home Test of the season. Bond, 28, has targeted the opening Test against Pakistan in Hamilton, starting on December 19, for his international comeback. He is being nursed back to full health after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his lower back in May.

"My fitness is good. I've been on a pretty strict programme of just about 10 overs a day," Bond said.

"We upped it a little bit and I'll be looking at bowling a bit more here and then getting a couple of days off. I'm basically injury-free. Now it's just a matter of building towards making a complete comeback."

Bond hopes to be near his best when Canterbury open the first-class season with a game against Otago in Timaru from December 1-4.

He will probably then play in a warm-up game against the Pakistanis to convince the national selectors he can cope with the burden of a Test workload. Bond was delighted to watch the Black Caps, in his absence, put up a fight in the two-Test series in India. "It was outstanding.

In the end, the pitch won out, but I don't think the guys could have done much better, really. To go over there and get a 0-0 result in the series and almost take 1-0 was a great effort."

Bond was pleased for regular pace partner Daryl Tuffey, who claimed seven wickets in unhelpful conditions in the second Test to give New Zealand a whiff of a series victory.

"There's been this generalisation that Daryl only bowls well at home when the conditions are good for the seamers. But he showed what he could do. He bowled straight for three days and was knocking over some great batsmen. He's worked hard on his fitness over winter and is just showing that he's a class performer. I'm pretty hungry to get back," he said.