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Latham, Neesham to debut for NZ in second India test

شعار Reuters Reuters 13/02/2014 Reuters

WELLINGTON - Batsman Tom Latham and all-rounder Jimmy Neesham will make their test debuts for New Zealand in the second and final match against India as the home side look to cement a series victory.

Latham will bat at number four in Brendon McCullum's team at Wellington's Basin Reserve, replacing Ross Taylor, who has been granted leave for the impending birth of his second child.

Neesham replaces legspinner Ish Sodhi for the match starting Friday, with the wicket heavily grassed and likely to provide seaming conditions for the bowlers.

"We just think with this wicket the best method of attack against this Indian side is to roll out another seamer so Jimmy Neesham comes in for Ish Sodhi," McCullum told reporters on Thursday.

"He's quite an attacking style bowler as well so he can fill that role as a fourth, fifth seamer and in combination with (Corey) Anderson is pretty strong for us.

"Neesham's batting is a bit of a bonus but he comes into the frame for his ability to bowl it pretty heavy as well."

Neesham, who is more renowned for his batting than his bowling, will bat at number eight for the hosts, who won the first match at Auckland's Eden Park on Sunday.

McCullum has lost every toss against India's Mahendra Singh Dhoni on the tour, and the New Zealand captain was able to laugh that a seventh successive loss would likely mean batting first on the green pitch.

"Yeah, it is likely to go against me," McCullum said laughing. "We would obviously look at bowling if we win the toss. With Neesham at eight we have quite a bit of batting. We have found ourselves in precarious situations quite a bit this summer batting first and we have managed to come through it."

New Zealand have won three of the four tests in their home summer, and would likely have won the first test against West Indies as well but for rain washing out the final session.

McCullum said it was "never ideal" to introduce two debutants in the same match, but both had experienced international cricket.

"I know they're both very excited about the opportunity they have got this test match," he said.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Ian Ransom)

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