Napier: Fast bowler Michael Mason on Sunday was a surprise inclusion in New Zealand's squad against India for the opening Test, starting at Wellington on December 12.
The Central Districts paceman, 29, earned his place in the 12-member team following his impressive three-wicket performance against Saurav Ganguly's Indians in the first innings of a tour game at the McLean Park. "Mason is a bowler with good pace," said Richard Hadlee, chairman of selectors. "He has been impressive in the current game, taking 3 for 46 in the first innings against India. He swings the ball away from right-handed batsmen." Mason rattled the tourists on Friday as he dismissed opener Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and skipper Saurav Ganguly to edge his closest competitor, Lance Hamilton, for a place in the national team. All-rounder Jacob Oram, who pulled out of a three-day match against India due to a hamstring injury, was named in the team after passing a fitness test. Oram, 24, has yet to figure in a Test despite playing 25 One-day Internationals. "Oram had been considered for Test teams in the past, but was the 12th man," Hadlee said in a statement. "His selection follows huge progress in his bowling. He has brisk pace and his height makes for increased bounce, which can prove awkward for batsmen in some conditions. "He has been impressive for Central Districts this season with both the bat and ball." Hadlee said the selectors had taken a conservative approach to naming the team bearing in mind the lack of cricket. "We're backing experience and putting our faith in players who have performed at the top level. I am, however, concerned about lack of wickets and runs from leading players in recent matches," he said. Fast bowler Ian Butler was unavailable due to an injury, while all-rounders Andre Adams and Chris Cairns and left-arm paceman Shayne O'Connor were undergoing rehabilitation programmes following injuries, the statement added. Daniel Vettori was the lone spinner in the squad, led by Stephen Fleming. New Zealand: Stephen Fleming (captain), Nathan Astle, Mark Richardson, Craig McMillan, Jacob Oram, Scott Styris, Robbie Hart, Daryl Tuffey, Lou Vincent, Shane Bond, Daniel Vettori and Michael Mason.
Indian batsman get good practice, match drawn