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India desperate for change, Varun to come in for Ishant

india Updated: Jan 30, 2014 14:10 IST
Hindustan Times
India tour of New Zealand

The Eden Park stadium derives its name from the same source as Mount Eden, a dormant volcano, in whose proximity it is built. Both are named after the first Earl of Auckland.

Asked when Mt Eden erupted the last time, Darren, a friendly security official at the stadium, quipped: "They are all dormant till they erupt, just like the batsmen, till they score a century."

India would feel rather dormant as they face a buoyant New Zealand in the third One-day international in this home of the country’s rugby. But Mt Eden erupted many hundreds years ago, and India will have to erupt on Saturday if they are to stay alive in this five-match series they trail 0-2.

After coming up short in both bowling and batting, with skipper MS Dhoni opting to chase in both Napier and Hamilton, it is a tough situation to be in for the visitors. They will also encounter the first drop-in pitch in this series, and by all accounts, the Eden Park surface should play fast. That means New Zealand pacers could prove a handful once again.

Although the Indian camp was tight-lipped about any changes to the line-up, Varun Aaron wheeling his kit bag and batting in the nets late in the session suggested he could come in. His ability to bowl fast - he had undergone back surgery - makes him an obvious candidate to replace the struggling Ishant Sharma and make an India comeback after two years.

Raina hit

Suresh Raina, already grappling with the extra pace and bounce, was hit on his left forearm facing Mohammed Shami in the nets. He spent a lot of time wringing his hand in pain, and then sat icing the area. Raina walked away with his arm taped. An X-ray did not reveal any major injury. A team official said it was 'soft tissue injury' and the physio would take a call on his availability before the game. If he does sits out, Ambati Rayudu could come in.

If he plays, and is available as a part-time spinner, the team management could leave out either of the spinners, Ravindra Jadeja or Ravichandran Ashwin. And that could bring all-rounder Stuart Binny into contention to make his debut.

Close watch

The openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma were the focus during training. Coach Duncan Fletcher positioned himself behind the net where the left-hander was batting, passing on instructions from time to time. Whether India make drastic changes remains to be seen, but asking the compact Ajinkya Rahane to open and restoring Rohit Sharma to the middle order could be one of them.

For India, only Mohammed Shami – he has taken seven wickets in two games - and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who bowled tightly in both games, have stood up to the challenge. Kiwi paceman Tim Southee said India pacers could have over–estimated the seam movement New Zealand pitches would offer.

"People get the idea in their head that you are coming to New Zealand and it is going to nip around. But in the last 10 years or so, the wickets have played pretty good. The boundaries are small so it is about adapting to those as quickly as you can," he added.

New Zealand are likely to call up Hamish Bennett in place of Kyle Mills. Bennett, 26, whose action is said to put a lot of stress on his body, has not played for New Zealand since the World Cup three years ago and underwent a back surgery in 2012.

Southee felt there would be seam movement and the shorter straight boundaries would require teams to play smartly. And India would be desperate to do that.

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