McCullum to open in India Tests
Brendon McCullum will return to the top of the order for New Zealand's Tests against India, set to open with Martin Guptill after playing at first drop during the past two series. Daniel Flynn, BJ Watling and Rob Nicol were all given a chance to partner Guptill during New Zealand's past two series, against South Africa and West Indies, but that won't be the case this time around.
"Martin Guptill and Brendon will open the innings," the New Zealand captain Ross Taylor told reporters in India after the squad touched down ahead of the first Test, starting in Hyderabad on Thursday. "Brendon batted well here on previous occasions and, hopefully, he will continue in the same vein in the upcoming Tests."
McCullum's highest Test score, 225, came on New Zealand's most recent Test tour of India, during the Hyderabad Test of 2010-11. McCullum and his team-mates don't have long to acclimatise to the conditions ahead of the first Test, but Taylor said the players were familiar enough with India that he was confident they could adjust quickly.
"We would certainly like to put some good plans in place and be positive about the way we look to play. India is a familiar place for a lot of us," he said. "We have played well here and are looking forward to the contest."
New Zealand are coming off a demoralising tour of the West Indies in which they lost the Tests and limited-overs legs comprehensively. They also lost 1-0 last time they visited India for Tests, but their bowlers at times left the Indian batting in positions of trouble, and their batting clicked, the highlights being McCullum's double-century and a debut hundred by Kane Williamson.
Harbhajan Singh rescued India from dicey positions in the series, scoring two centuries and a fifty. Taylor said the side would nevertheless take heart from that tour.
"We hadn't had bad memories the last time we played here. Brendon got 225. We had our opportunities but Harbhajan batted well and took the game away from us. However, it is a different time of the year, and hopefully, we will continue to play well."
Daniel Vettori, with 14 wickets, was the highest wicket-taker in the series. Taylor said his spinners would be keen to take advantage of the conditions. "They have a few spinners in their side and we don't play lot of spinners back home," he said. "It will be a good challenge and we are looking forward to put India under pressure."
He said India played well at home and his side would have to take that into account. "India is always tough in their home conditions. Whether they play north or down south they play very well. We should be careful about the reverse swing and the spinners. We have to learn quickly through the series."
The two-Test series will be followed by two T20Is in September as a prelude to the World T20.