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Any which way but lose as New Zealand bid for rare series win

New Zealand's Ish Sodhi (centre) celebrates after taking the wicket of Australia's David Warner (left) during the final Twenty20 Tri-Series match with Australia at Eden Park in Auckland on February 21. AFP
New Zealand's Ish Sodhi (centre) celebrates after taking the wicket of Australia's David Warner (left) during the final Twenty20 Tri-Series match with Australia at Eden Park in Auckland on February 21. AFP

Any which way but lose as New Zealand bid for rare series win

New Zealand have been forced to realign their bowling stocks in a bid for a rare series win over England, with Todd Astle ruled out of the second Test starting in Christchurch on Friday.

Ish Sodhi was called up on Wednesday to replace Astle who suffered a side strain while mopping up England’s second innings in the first Test where New Zealand put their full range of bowling options on display to win by an innings and 49 runs.

New Zealand only needed the swing of Trent Boult and Tim Southee to destroy England for 58 in the first innings.

But in the second innings they added the spin of Astle and the bouncers of Neil Wagner into the mix, with the pair taking three wickets apiece in a tight performance to roll the tourists for 320.

Since the first Test between New Zealand and England in 1938, New Zealand have only won two series and just one at home – 34 years ago before any of the current team were born.

Going into the decider in this two-Test series – on a Hagley Oval wicket that has hosted four previous Tests which all produced a result – Black Caps coach Mike Hesson was adamant his side was looking for a clean sweep.

“This is a huge opportunity – you don’t go in thinking about drawing,” Hesson said as the series returns to the traditional daytime hours after the pink ball affair in Auckland.

“It’s been a big series, we’ve been planning for the last six months and need to make sure we use the next few days wisely.”

‘Plenty to worry about’

While New Zealand have won seven and drawn two of their past 10 Tests at home, England are on a 12-Test streak without a win, which clearly has captain Joe Root bothered.

When the day-night Test ended on Monday, and Root was asked for his take on the tamper-gate involving Australia unfolding in South Africa, it was the last thing on his mind.

“I have plenty on my plate to worry about,” he said.

“It’s very important this week that we do some soul searching and get things right for the [second] Test.”

Hesson believed he had things right with his options – an innings of 427 for eight declared in the first Test and a bowling pack that took 20 wickets for 378 runs.

“I think we’ve got first-innings bowlers and second-innings bowlers which is what you need,” Hesson said.

“Todd played a major role in helping us win the game at Eden Park, so it’s disappointing for Todd and the team that he’s forced to the sideline.”

The addition of Sodhi to the squad is a like-for-like with leg spinners.

Sodhi has played in 14 Tests, the last time in India 18 months ago, and has career figures of 38 wickets for 46.68.

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