In 13 years of one-day international cricket, Kyle Mills has never known competition like it in the New Zealand fast bowling ranks.
That could either mean bad news for the 34-year-old veteran of 162 matches, or lift him to another level just over a year out from the World Cup.
Young fast bowler Adam Milne is the latest to add to the mix, meaning one of Milne, Mills or Mitchell McClenaghan will miss out against India tomorrow, with Tim Southee assured as the anointed leader of the fast bowling attack.
Mills, whose career average of 26.7 and economy rate of 4.7 still stacks up impressively, won't be changing a thing and hopes it's enough for coach Mike Hesson.
"Throughout my time this is the best depth in the bowling department that I've come across which is obviously healthy for the team," Mills said.
He felt McLean Park would provide the ultimate test of who was up for the fight and who wasn't, in tomorrow's first ODI. Mills memorably remarked last month that he'd been trying in vain for 12 years to extract something from the Napier pitch, a venue where 280 appears to be a par total on recent evidence.
Hesson confirmed Mills would take the new ball if selected, a relief to the swing bowler who prefers that role and admits at his moderate pace you can't try too much.
"My role has always been trying to get us off to a good start, keep the runs per over down and try to build some pressure and force some false strokes."
Some extreme pace at the other end would help with that, said Mills who relished bowling in tandem with Shane Bond and the pressure his pace created on the batsmen.
It's a new experience for Mills, too, against India's batting lineup without the big name batsmen of recent years – Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly among others. Key men Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan are playing their first internationals in New Zealand.
"Hopefully we can get into their top order. It's a different Indian side to what we've faced over the last decade and there's new players on the scene with a bit of hype about them. Kohli is obviously a quality player and Dhawan has done a pretty good job.
"I haven't really played a lot of their batsmen. Kohli is a very good player. I've watched footage of him and he's a class act and his record is stacking up to be as good as Tendulkar. He's going to have the weight of a nation, so to speak, on him to fill those shoes. There might be an opportunity for us to create that pressure on him."
HOW THEY LINE UP
What: First one-day international
Where: McLean Park, Napier
When: 2pm tomorrow, live on Sky Sport 1
TAB odds: New Zealand $2.25, India $1.60
New Zealand (from): Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum (captain), Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi, Jimmy Neesham, Nathan McCullum, Tim Southee, Kyle Mills, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne.
India (from): Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravi Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Varun Aaron, Stuart Binny, Amit Mishra, Ishwar Pandey, Ambati Rayudu.
Umpires: Rod Tucker (Australia), Derek Walker (NZ). Third umpire: Chris Gaffaney (NZ).
- The Dominion Post
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