James Franklin will be used as a batting all-rounder by New Zealand in their opening Test against India, which starts in Hamilton tomorrow. Franklin comes into the side in place of Jacob Oram, who is not yet fit enough for the Test match arena after a recent Achilles injury. The 28-year-old left-hander from Wellington has been in fine form with the bat in the domestic four-day competition, hitting 160 against against Northern Districts in December and 76 and 156 not out against Central Districts.
"He's definitely there as a batsman," said captain Daniel Vettori. "That's where his form has been all summer. If you look at his record in all three forms of the game he's been fantastic. He's earned that right to bat in the top six and we're going to get some overs from him (with the ball)." Auckland pair Tim McIntosh and Martin Guptill, who will make his Test debut, look set to open for the hosts.
Most of the focus however, is on the bowling unit who will have to contend not just with Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh - who have taken them apart during the shortened version of the game - but also Test specialists Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman now as well. Chris Martin, the right-arm seamer, has been recalled and Brent Arnel given his head - they will share the workload with Kyle Mills and Iain O'Brien - but they will have their work cut out to prevent India from winning their first Test series on New Zealand soil since a 3-1 win in 1967-68.
* With agencies