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Brilliant debuts no surprise to Hesson

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/11/2016 Daniel Gilhooly

<span style="font-size:13px;">New Zealand coach Mike Hesson suspected the time was right for rookie Colin de Grandhomme to shine at Test level.</span> © MARTY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images New Zealand coach Mike Hesson suspected the time was right for rookie Colin de Grandhomme to shine at Test level. Put the dream Test debuts of Jeet Raval and Colin de Grandhomme down to timing.

New Zealand's domestic cricket scene has its critics yet it has produced a duo who were arguably the Black Caps' best players in the eight-wicket win over Pakistan.

Man-of-the-match de Grandhomme's seamers ripped through the visitors' top-order on day one, admittedly in helpful Hagley Oval conditions.

Opener Raval scored more runs than anyone in a bowler-dominated Test with 55 and 36 not out.

Apart from Kane Williamson's 61 on the final day, New Zealand's top-order largely struggled with the speed and skill of Pakistan's seamers.

The exception was tall left-hander Raval, whose simple, disciplined methods drew praise from Hesson.

The newcomers, both born overseas, had notched 154 first class games between them before getting a Test chance.

Hesson defended the selection delay, saying both players had been slow-burners who had finally proved their mettle at Plunket Shield level.

Even then, he wanted to be careful about their promotion.

Raval, 28, was included in New Zealand's squad for their tour of Africa in August, didn't play a Test and was dropped for the subsequent series in India.

Hesson defended a decision to persist in India with the under-performing Martin Guptill.

"The key for us was giving Jeet the best opportunity to be successful. He's been given a chance to play in conditions he's familiar with and he's grabbed it with both hands," Hesson said.

"His decision-making throughout was exceptional. He never went away from his game plan, even when he was challenged, which was a great sign."

De Grandhomme has bubbled under the surface but Hesson and his domestic scouts had always wondered if there was more to the strapping allrounder than his renowned big-hitting.

Shut out of Test contention by Corey Anderson and Jimmy Neesham, the Harare-born 30-year-old only truly entered the equation this year.

"Colin's been a talented player for a long time but we've been waiting for something to click, for him to show that he's worked out how to play at first class level," Hesson said.

"People do mature at different ages. In this instance, Colin's probably a slightly late maturer, but he's probably got plenty of Tests left in him."

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