Jesse Ryder and Doug Bracewell will rue their latest drunken adventure. The left-handed batsman and the pacer would have been certainties for the second Test at the Basin Reserve. However, they were sacked from the squad and fined for their night out, hours before the Auckland Test began.
A confident New Zealand thus go into the second Test with two debutants. Tom Latham, essentially an opening batsman, will bat in place of Ross Taylor at No 4. James Neesham was included as the fourth specialist paceman on a green top. Leg spinner Ish Sodhi was left out, due to the pitch and after struggling against the India batsmen in the first Test.
The joy of a winning team is enhanced if it can break down tactics and explain them as well as execute them precisely on the field. New Zealand have so far relied on the consistency of their middle order batsmen while pacers have relished the opportunities to attack Indian batsmen on bouncy tracks.
The Kiwis will effectively have a five-man pace attack, although Corey Anderson has not been as much a threat with the ball as he has been with the bat. McCullum can call upon Kane Williamson’s off-spin if required. Neesham, who will bat at No 8, is a competent batsman as well.
More than the clear skies forecast for the next three days, McCullum wants the typical Wellington wind to abate so that his bowlers can swing the ball. India too will be looking at that opportunity, especially Zaheer Khan and Mohammed Shami.
"Some still days and the ball seems to swing here. That's what is forecast for the next few days and hopefully we will be able to generate that swing and that will be a key attacking weapon for us," McCullum said.
The idea is to be relentless and fielding five pacers means they can bowl in short bursts and not ease up on the intensity. The team winning the toss will definitely bowl, and MS Dhoni has won it every time on this tour. But McCullum believes the Indian skipper's tactic of bowling first five times on this tour has given his players the opportunity to be ready if they are forced to take first strike again.