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  5. IND vs NZ, 2nd Test: Kyle Jamieson or Ajaz Patel? Neil Wagner's return leaves New Zealand in a dilemma

IND vs NZ, 2nd Test: Kyle Jamieson or Ajaz Patel? Neil Wagner's return leaves New Zealand in a dilemma

Wagner's return, post the paternity leave, has left the team management in a bit of a dilemma.

India TV Sports Desk India TV Sports Desk
New Delhi Published on: February 25, 2020 20:09 IST
File image of Neil Wagner
Image Source : GETTY IMAGES

File image of Neil Wagner

It would have been an easy inclusion for Neil Wagner into the New Zealand lineup for the second Test, which begins in Christchurch on Saturday. And it still is. But his return, post the paternity leave, has left the team management in a bit of a dilemma. 

25-year-old Kyle Jamieson was handed his Test cap last week as a replacement for Wagner for the first Test. He finished with 4 for 39 in the first innings which included the impressive dismissals of Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, and then returned to score 44 with the bat in New Zealand's 71-run stand down the order to help the hosts swell the lead past 150. Jamieson's imposing all-round performance has left New Zealand with the dilemma of whether to leave out the 6'8'' pacer out of the playing XI for the second Test, given that Wagner is certain to form the pace combination with Trent Boult and Tim Southee

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

Stead further went on to confirm Wagner's certainty for the final tie of India's tour after he was asked if management would like to give Jamieson another go and allow the veteran to spend time with his wife and newly-born daughter.

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

With Wagner certain, will the management now go with an all-pace attack in Christchurch or keep Ajaz Patel in the mix? The Hagley Oval has traditionally favoured pacers who have an average strike rate of 54.57 and a combined average of 28.46 as against 104.6 and 59.78 respectively recorded by the spinners.

At Hagley Oval Overs Maidens Runs Wkts Ave Econ SR
Pacers  1607.1 371 5010 176 28.46 3.11 54.7
Spinners 331.3 58 1136 19 59.78 3.42 104.6

"I think we always consider those things," Stead said when asked about the four-pacers attack. "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."

Moreover, Ajaz Patel, the only spinner in New Zealand playing XI for the first Test, had limited role in Wellington where he bowled only six overs across the two innings. But Stead said that Patel would have played a big role if the game had rolled into the fifth day. 

"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.

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