Gary Stead all but confirms Neil Wagner in XI

NZ to face India in Christchurch

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Head coach Gary Stead is confident fast bowler Neil Wagner will return to the XI for New Zealand‘s second and final Test against New Zealand this week.

Wagner missed the first Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, where New Zealand one by 10 wickets, due to paternity leave.

Wagner might replace specialist spinner Ajaz Patel, rather than fellow fast bowler Kyle Jamieson, at a venue that has traditionally suited seam.

“Yeah, that's always good selection dilemmas to have. Neil will come back and he's been a force in our team for a long time, and obviously Kyle  made the most of his debut, and the way he played, I thought, was outstanding as well, did a really good job for us,” said Stead.

“You always think about those things, but I think Neil, it was pretty hard missing one Test let alone two Tests, so no, he'll be back with us without a doubt.

“I think we always consider those things. We'll go down there, look at the wicket, we're still three or four days out at this stage, so don't want to make any assumptions before we get down there, but generally the wicket we play on at Hagley has a wee bit in it as well.

“We've seen in the past, guys like Colin de Grandhomme can be very very useful in those conditions as well – think back to his debut against Pakistan, then it was useful conditions for him – but whoever we go with, we know we need to put in a performance like we did in this game, because, as I said, India will get better.”

Wagner or Patel?

Left-armer Patel bowled a mere six innings in the series opener, as Jamieson, de Grandhomme and new-ball bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee dominated the Indians for an early series lead.

“You look at it, and again, if the Test went the full distance, or even deep into the fourth day, you'd think that Ajaz would have taken a much bigger part than what he did, but it wasn't to be because our seam bowlers were so good in this Test match, and again, that's a really pleasing thing,” added Stead.

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