New Zealand are toying with the possibility of playing an extra spinner in the second Test against Sri Lanka starting in Hamilton on Friday, despite their commanding victory in the series opener.
Bowling coach Dmitri Mascarenhas spiced up competition in the bowling ranks by suggesting the line-up could be shaken up at the expense of either Neil Wagner or Doug Bracewell, both of whom were impressive in the first Test in Dunedin which New Zealand won by 122 runs.
“The boys bowled exceptionally well on a really flat wicket and it’s about time we took 20 wickets,” Mascarenhas said Wednesday, as the squad began preparations for the second Test at Seddon Park.
“I think we just showed what we are capable of doing, but now it’s time to keep that consistency up and move forward.”
Mascarenhas rated Bracewell as “probably the best bowler” in the first Test but without having the same success as Wagner who, on his recall after a year out of Test cricket, bagged the key wicket of Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews in the second innings.
Wagner took five for 143 from 42 overs in the match while the more miserly Bracewell bowled 10 fewer deliveries and finished with one for 88.
Mascarenhas said a pitch inspection would determine whether New Zealand keep both seamers or replace one with Mark Craig as a second spin option to back up Mitchell Santner.
“We could,” he said of the possibility of playing two spinners. “But we haven’t seen the wicket yet. From my point of view you pick the best team to get a win in the conditions.”
Captain Brendon McCullum said the bowling options remained wide open.
“When (Wagner) is in your team you know that you’ve got those overs when you are going to be able to create some opportunities,” he said.
“Mark Craig comes back into calculations as well but Doug Bracewell, I thought he bowled absolutely brilliantly throughout the Test match and all through Australia as well and just hasn’t got the rewards at the moment.
“We’ll look at the surface and work out the combination and the dynamic we are after and then we’ll make a decision.”
Mascarenhas expected a more resolute performance from Sri Lanka who are still bedding in a clutch of newcomers after the retirement of several seasoned players in the past 18 months, notably Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.
“We saw some really good signs from their batters. They’ve got some really talented and skilful players,” he said.
“We know they’ve lost a couple of big players but the ones coming in are having opportunities and taking them.”