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Bowlers in for tough time: Williamson

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/07/2016
Mark Craig © AP Photo/Rick Rycroft Mark Craig

Kane Williamson reckons his decision-making will undergo immediate scrutiny when he becomes New Zealand's 29th Test captain against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo.

Williamson is taking nothing for granted ahead of the first of two Tests in Bulawayo starting on Thursday, even though his team are the firmest of favourites.

While the world No.5 Black Caps boast a vastly more experienced side than the injury-hit hosts, Williamson expects to be tested fully in New Zealand's first Test since 2004 which doesn't feature retired former skipper Brendon McCullum.

The low, slow conditions at the Queens Sports Club ground will turn it into a five-day test of patience.

Well practised as a captain at limited overs level, the 25-year-old says he has given his Test milestone little thought.

"We've been so consumed with preparation that I haven't felt a huge amount about it," he said.

"It is tough to win here. Certainly Zimbabwe are well-equipped in these conditions because they're so familiar with them.

"It is about thinking on your feet, to make those quick adjustments. It's going to be a tough challenge and we may have to find different ways to skin it."

The Black Caps may consider fielding three spinners - Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner and Mark Craig - to accompany new ball pair Tim Southee and Trent Boult. If a third seamer is picked, it will be tight call between Neil Wagner, Doug Bracewell and Matt Henry,

Williamson pointed to New Zealand's last Test at Bulawayo five years ago for an example of the battle that could await.

It took the tourists until the final session to win by 34 runs after the hosts threatened to run down a target of 366.

Since then, the Black Caps have played 40 Tests and climbed the international pecking order while the hosts have played just 10.

It is nearly two years since Zimbabwe's last Test, against Bangladesh, with their lack of experience and several injuries making them ripe for the picking.

Williamson is looking inwards, demanding a positive performance in New Zealand's first Test for five months.

"The team has improved a lot in recent years and that is the focus still, to continue to improve.

"We're certainly going to play in a way that gives us the best chance."

New Zealand: (from) Kane Williamson (capt), Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Mitch Santner, BJ Watling, Luke Ronchi, Mark Craig, Ish Sodhi, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Matt Henry, Trent Boult.

Zimbabwe: (from) Graeme Cremer (capt), Hamilton Mazakadza, Timo Mawoyo, Brian Chari, Regis Chakabva, Craig Ervine, Sean Williams, Peter Moor, Chamu Chibhabha, Michael Chinouya, Prince Masvaure, Richmond Mutumbami, Taurai Muzarabani, Njabulo Ncube, Sikander Raza, Donald Tiripano.

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