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New Zealand face a selection dilemma as Neil Wagner returns ahead of Christchurch Test

The hosts will look for a Test sweep to follow their 3-0 win in the ODIs after India won the T20I series 5-0.

Neil Wagner
Neil Wagner. (Photo Source: Twitter)

New Zealand made a remarkable turnaround in the long format since their humiliating 0-3 loss against Australia recently by winning the first Test against India in Wellington by 10 wickets. It was the Kiwis’ second win in the ICC World Test Championship since their only win against Sri Lanka last year. The visitors witnessed two consecutive batting collapses in the Test match and tasted their first defeat in the championship after seven consecutive wins.

The two teams now play their second and final Test match in Christchurch starting Saturday. The hosts will look for a sweep to follow their 3-0 win in the ODIs after India won the T20I series 5-0. However, Kane Williamson’s side faced a selection dilemma ahead of the game though coach Gary Stead will not be unhappy while handling it.

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New Zealand spoilt for choice in picking fast bowlers

New Zealand are awaiting the return of experienced seamer Neil Wagner but the impressive debut of Kyle Jamieson has now left the team management to pick from four pacers — a complete change in the scenario that the Kiwis were left with in Australia where a spate of injuries left them with a depleted fast bowling attack.

With Trent Boult coming back with fitness and Tim Southee bagging the Man-of-the-match award at Basin Reserve, Wagner’s return after the birth of his daughter and an impressive Jamieson leaves Gary Stead and Kane Williamson with a whole lot of options to choose from before finalising the playing XI at Hagley Oval.

“That’s a good selection dilemma to have. Neil Wagner will come back and he’s been a force in our team for a long time, and obviously Kyle Jamieson made the most of his debut – I thought the way he played was outstanding,” Stead was quoted as saying by the New Zealand Herald.

Jamieson would almost certainly miss out in Christchurch if the hosts stick to Ajaz Patel as the only spinning option. The Indian-born left-arm spinner got to bowl only six overs in Wellington but Stead felt he could have been more useful had the match gone on to a bigger length.

“If the Test went the full distance or even deep into the fourth day, you’d have thought Ajaz would have taken a much bigger part than what he did. It wasn’t to be because our seam bowlers were so good in this test match, and that’s a really pleasing thing,” he said.

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