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‘Hope to surprise India with Sodhi’

Auckland: Hoping that Indian batsmen would be flummoxed by leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, Brendon McCullum resisted the “temptation” to have four seamers and named an unchanged team for the first Test of the two-match series starting here, at the Eden Park, on Thursday.

“We have named an unchanged XI, which is reward for the consistency we have shown against the West Indies,” said McCullum, on Wednesday.

“There’s always that temptation to play four seamers on a green pitch. But it’s a tough ask on your No. 3 batsman to go in as your first spinner.

“Also, Ish (Sodhi) has done a pretty good job and as a wrist-spinner, even if the pitch doesn’t offer a great deal of spin, he should be able to get something out of it. He could well be the surprise element,” the New Zealand captain added.

Talking about Sodhi in the playing XI, McCullum said he is hoping for the bowler to do justice to his talent. “He’s young, but he’s incredibly talented and hence, he’ll continue to get opportunities.

“He’s a guy that can have a real impact for his country over the next decade or so,” McCullum emphasised.

“You’ve got to be patient with leg-spinners. We do think he’s got a bit of X-factor. I anticipate the Indian batsmen, who are very good players of spin, will try to put Ish under pressure. But I’m confident he’ll come through.”

The Eden Park pitch has a fair sprinkling of grass and the Ludhiana-born Sodhi will face probably his toughest challenge when he plays against Indian batsmen in this Test.

“The pitch has got a decent covering of grass, albeit funny looking grass at one end. It looks hard as well. So, we expect a bit more bounce than what there was against England (last year) and hopefully, there’s a bit of pace as well.”

the New Zealand XI

Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum, Corey Anderson, BJ Watling, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.