Doug Bracwell © Getty Images
Doug Bracwell is one of the potential bowling options New Zealand will look to explore © Getty Images

New Zealand registered a thumping 122-run victory in the first Test against Sri Lanka at Dunedin. Everything seemed to have gone the host’s way in the first Test, but a lot of young legs in the bowling department are battling for their place into the side as well. In a sense, Neil Wagner, Doug Bracewell, Matt Henry, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mark Craig and Mitchell Santner are competing with each other, with only Tim Southee and Trent Boult being certainties in the side. As the second Test of the two-match series at Hamilton is around the corner, Suraj Choudhari throws light on New Zealand’s bowling attack and picks his combination for the final clash. LIVE CRICKET SCORECARD: New Zealand vs Sri Lanka 2015-16, 2nd Test at Hamilton

Boult and Southee have formed a tag team over time. They have led the Black Caps bowling attack successfully in the recent times. Menacing pace and deadly swing have been their primary weapons. They have been New Zealand’s pillars of strength. However, New Zealand’s young guns have also made an impact during their sporadic appearances, and nearly all of them possess required ingredients to succeed in international cricket. At present New Zealand have a plethora of budding cricketers anxious to make their opportunities count.

New Zealand suffered a 0-2 defeat in the recently concluded Test series in Australia. To their credit, they bounced back emphatically in the first Test against Sri Lanka. When a side has too many quality bowlers to choose from, they found themselves in the enviable problem of plenty. At present, New Zealand are going through a similar phase, with Southee and Boult having cemented their place in the playing XI. It has become more difficult for the likes of Wagner, Bracewell, Henry and McClenaghan to clinch Test berths on regular basis, more so since Craig and Santner both look convincing and are equally effective with the bat as well as ball. READ: NZ vs SL 2015-16, 2nd Test at Hamilton: Key battles

Wagner bowled beautifully in the first Test and showed his canniness with the ball when he set up Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews with constant short pitched stuff and then got the better of him with a full one. He bowled long spells with the stamina that of a horse. It is unlikely New Zealand will disturb the winning combination. They will not want to touch the pace trio of Southee, Boult and Wagner. Though Henry possesses immense pace and talent, he has to wait for his chances.

The choice between Santner and Craig is also a matter of concern for the Kiwis. Both spinners are capable with bat, and look convincing at the crease. Craig has done reasonably well in the handful of appearances so far, whereas Santner has not looked any less. But Santner will have the edge if New Zealand are looking for variety, for he bowls left-arm finger-spin. READ: New Zealand vs Sri Lanka 2015-16, 2nd Test at Hamilton: Likely XI for the visitors

New Zealand will look to battle for glory and seek revenge when Australia lock horns with them in February. Since they will also have home advantage, for the Australian series they should make the most of the Sri Lanka and get their pace battery ready for the big clash. It’s a great opportunity for them to nurture burgeoning players for big series. As of now it is highly unlikely that there would be any changes in the bowling department. The only possible change may be the inclusion of one or both of Bracewell and Henry. They will look to whitewash the visitors, since the condition suits their style; the onus of making a comeback is on the visitors. READ: Sri Lanka’s stomach for fight in 1st Test against New Zealand shows rebuilding phase headed in right direction

(Suraj Choudhari is a reporter with Criclife and CricketCountry. He is an avid follower of the game, and plays the sport at club level. He has a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, and tries to express it through paper and pen.)