Opening batsman Jamie How will make his debut for New Zealand in the first of four limited-overs cricket internationals against Sri Lanka.
updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
Wellington:Opening batsman Jamie How will make his debut for New Zealand in the first of four limited-overs cricket internationals against Sri Lanka at Queenstown on Saturday. Coach John Bracewell favored How in the starting XI over veteran Nathan Astle, who was recalled to the squad when captain Stephen Fleming withdrew following the birth of his first child. Peter Fulton, who has played only one match for New Zealand, has been chosen to bat first drop, giving a new look to the New Zealand top order as Bracewell experiments to address a recent weakness in that area. "Certainly the changes shift the point of our attack away from that top order batting combination of Stephen Fleming, Nathan Astle and Lou Vincent,'' Bracewell said. "The way it is now, with a couple of new boys in the mix and trying to get Hamish Marshall back into form, there's a slightly different emphasis to our batting." Saturday's match resumes a series which began on Dec. 26 2004: the day an earthquake-generated tsunami swept Sri Lankan coastal towns and villages, killing as more than 31,000 people. New Zealand won that match at Auckland's Eden Park and the Sri Lankan players left the field to news of the disaster in their homeland. Their tour was halted to allow players to rejoin their families. Two postponed test matches were played last April and the curtailed, five-match one-day series can now resume. The series is an important one for both teams. New Zealand, ranked seventh in the world, has to be among the top six one-day sides by April 1 to qualify for next year's Champions Trophy tournament in India while the Sri Lankans are eager to atone for poor form on the recent Indian tour. Sri Lanka has brought a highly experienced team on tour, headed by veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya who has been recalled and given license to attack the New Zealand bowlers. Shane Bond will return from injury to spearhead the bowling attack after missing the recent Chappell-Hadlee series against Australia. Bracewell said Bond's return gave a new dimension to the attack. New Zealand has worked in the leadup to Saturday's match on its bowling at in the last overs, which was a weakness against Australia. "We need to have at least three options up our sleeve just in case we need to bring someone like Bond back in the middle of the innings,'' Bracewell said. (AP)