Vettori prepared to take risks to level the series

After the coin toss, the BLACKCAPS may have to roll the dice.

Captain Daniel Vettori acknowledges a conservative game plan against India is unlikely to produce a positive outcome when the third and final cricket test starts at the Basin Reserve.

Vettori New Zealand must take risks to achieve a series-salvaging victory at a ground renowned recently for producing results.

Should the coin fall in Vettori's favour it is likely he will break with cricketing convention and bowl first although his quick men have had little recovery time since their marathon stints in during the drawn second test in Napier.

The pitch is expected to be another belter, although assistance should be available in the opening session.

Counterpart Mahendra Singh Dhoni changed tack ahead of the first test at Hamilton, deciding to bowl first on a hunch and being rewarded with six wickets before lunch at Seddon Park.

New Zealand never recovered from that disastrous opening before losing by 10 wickets.

Now Vettori is pinning his hopes on India suffering their own debilitating morning tomorrow (11amNZT).

That scenario has also played out perfectly for New Zealand before at the Basin before.

Stephen Fleming inserted India when the teams last met in the capital in December 2002. The tourists were fired out cheaply and the home side proceeded to win by 10 wickets.

The 2005 test against Sri Lanka followed a similar script, with the tourists rolled cheaply before losing by an innings and 38 runs.

"We'd like to bowl first and put India under pressure," Vettori said.

"When we've won games at the Basin that's traditionally what we've done."

Vettori said he was even willing to risk a 2-0 loss in the quest for a 1-1 scoreline.

"I think we have to go in with that mentality. It's not always my line of thinking but I think we realise 1-1 would be a great result for us so we have to take any opportunity.

"There's going to be times during the test where we're going to have to push a little bit harder and take some chances and if that means putting ourselves under pressure with a loss ... I definitely think we'll go down that road."

Squaring the series relies on New Zealand taking 20 Indian wickets -- a task that has proved beyond Vettori and his bowlers so far.

At McLean Park earlier this week New Zealand toiled for 180 overs after India followed on -- but could only remove four batsmen.

Now Daniel Flynn's bruised and swollen left hand appears to have recovered, the only selection issue revolves around the composition of the bowling line-up.

Vettori scotched suggestions allrounder James Franklin, who is still wicketless in the series, might be not be required on his home ground.

It means Tim Southee, Kyle Mills and Jeetan Patel are vying for one position.

"I've been impressed with the way James has bowled. The fact he hasn't taken any wickets has disappointed him but talking to the guys behind the stumps they are relatively impressed with the way the ball's been coming."

It seems unlikely Southee would have been recalled to carry the drinks so he is probably ahead of Mills on the pecking order, meaning the choice is probably between the 20-year-old who was carted in his only one-day international appearance in Christchurch and Patel.

The offspinner took four wickets in Napier but New Zealand have not employed two specialist tweakers at the Basin since Paul Wiseman and leggie Brooke Walker took a combined one for 244 against Zimbabwe in December 2000.

India has only one selection issue before they strive to become the first Indian test side to win a series in six attempts since the pioneering team of 1968 -- the fitness of their captain Dhoni.

The wicketkeeper was cautiously optimistic about being able to return after missing the second test with a back strain, although he was wearing a support brace at training today.

"It has improved a lot but we'll have to see. It's a test match, not a one-day game where you know the maximum you will keep for is 50 overs. In a test on a good, flat track you should be ready for 120 overs."

Dhoni reiterated coach Gary Kirsten's belief that India will not settle for defending their 1-0 series lead.

"Once you have the mindset of going for a draw you're not aggressive enough to win a test match and winning is very important," he said.

NZPA

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