On the eve of the first ODI against India, New Zealand’s stand-in-captain Tom Latham acknowledged that senior pacers Tim Southee and Trent Boult’s absence leaves a “massive hole” in the squad.
However, Latham also feels that it provides a chance to fringe players to prove their mettle against the star-studded Indian team away from home.
While Southee has flown back home after a successful tour of Pakistan, Boult is plying his trade in the inaugural International League T20 (ILT20), having been released by NZC from its central contract.
In the batting department, the BlackCaps will miss the services of regular skipper Kane Williamson.
“They (Boult, Southee, Williamson) are not in the side and that leaves a massive hole for us. On the other hand, it presents an opportunity for other guys who have been around the squad. Everyone has played international cricket in the squad which is a bonus,” Latham said during the pre-match press conference.
“It is their turn to step up. Lucky we have Lockie Ferguson who has played a lot of cricket in India,”
Latham informed that Ferguson will lead the pace attack alongside Blair Tickner, Doug Bracewell and Henry Shipley. The southpaw further said that senior spinner Ish Sodhi has been ruled out of the first game of the three-ODI series due to a niggle.
“Unfortunately a niggle for Ish. He won’t be available tomorrow but fingers crossed he will be available for the next couple of games,” said Latham.
The Kiwis are coming into this series on the back of a memorable 2-1 ODI series win in Pakistan
With the ODI World Cup slated to be held in India later this year, Latham said the series holds a lot of significance.
“The cricket that we played in Pakistan was really good. Some of them had not toured Pakistan ever and to come up with a series win was really nice. Over here, we will try and adapt to the conditions as much as we can.
“Surfaces in India will potentially be a bit better than what we had in Pakistan. Every time we play India it is a competitive series,” he said.
In the context of the World Cup, the southpaw added: “This is our last opportunity to play in these conditions before the World Cup which is not too far away. We will just try to take as many learnings as we can from these conditions. Luckily enough most of the guys have played in Indian conditions.”
Latham said they have done their homework to counter the Indian bowlers, including the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.
“We are lucky we play these guys (India) a lot here or back home. We have been talking to the guys who have played in India whether in the IPL or international games, in terms of trying to read different deliveries. Spin always plays a big part in India.”
Hyderabad will host the opening ODI on January 18 while the second and third games will be played in Raipur and Indore on January 21 and January 24, respectively.
(With PTI Inputs)