Mills set for new tour of duty

Kyle Mills missed phase one of India's batting onslaught but is primed to reinforce a disciplined BLACKCAPS attack as the one-day series takes precedence.

An Achilles problem prevented the pace bowler from experiencing the Twenty20 series win at close quarters, but the 29-year-old is now poised to reach the 100-match milestone after proving an influential member of the Black Caps squad that drew the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series in Australia last month.

Mills injured his leg during the washed out fifth and final ODI in Brisbane, but after sitting out the tour-ending Twenty20 loss at the SCG and wins over India in Christchurch and Wellington, team management are confident he is back to full fitness -- and full pace.

While fellow quicks Tim Southee, Iain O'Brien and Ian Butler were bearing the brunt of Virender Sehwag's short and sweet savagery, medical staff decided not to risk Mills' involvement.

He plays in the five-match series opener at McLean Park here tomorrow after taking two for 23 for a New Zealand Masters selection against an Australian equivalent in Wellington on Friday.

New Zealand coach Andy Moles doubted Mills' preparations for a star-studded and expressive Indian batting line-up would be compromised by his unscheduled break.

"He probably could have done with playing but he's had a good rest as well," said Moles, noting Mills' contribution to the drawn series with the world champions.

"He's coming off the back of some really good performances in Australia."

Mills was the second highest wicket taker with nine, one less than O'Brien. The haul included four for 35 in the series opening win in Perth, while he gave up a respectable 4.35 runs per over -- second only to Daniel Vettori's 4.25.

The Auckland right armer has also been relatively successful against India during a 97-match ODI career that has realised 145 scalps -- Mills has claimed 16 wickets at 27.87 in 13 matches against India stretching back to 2001.

He is also the third ranked ODI bowler in the world according to the current International Cricket Council standings, behind Vettori and Sri Lankan fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekera.

Mills' rehabilitation and the latest comeback from Jacob Oram has enabled the New Zealand selectors to name their strongest available bowling attack while Jesse Ryder's return from a shoulder injury complements an increasingly reliable top four also comprising Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor and this summer's revelation, Martin Guptill.

Oram, chosen as a batsman in the Twenty20s, was expected to bowl in the nets today and if successful he offers Vettori another medium pace option along with Ryder.

India, meanwhile, has made one alteration after its Twenty20 series loss -- and it is significant.

Ravindra Jadeja, a promising 20-year-old allrounder makes way for the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, the record test and ODI run scorer.

Tendulkar will play on tour for the first time in the first leg of the five-match ODI series here at McLean Park tomorrow.

However, fast bowler Ishant Sharma remains in doubt and is thought unlikely to play after injuring a shoulder while fielding as New Zealand chased down 150 on Friday.

NZPA

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