New Zealand coach Mike Hesson predicts up to five Otago players will be in the money with Indian Premier League contracts after their impressive Champions League run.
Hesson and the New Zealand test squad watched Otago bow out of the tournament on net run rate yesterday at their Bangladesh hotel, when Mumbai toppled Perth to clinch the last semifinal spot. It saved Hesson some angst, as his captain Brendon McCullum, Hamish Rutherford and Neil Wagner will now get some valuable time in the three-day warmup match in Chittagong, starting tonight.
Hesson was confident Rutherford, Jimmy Neesham, Ian Butler and possibly century-maker Neil Broom would join the McCullum brothers as IPL signings for next year's tournament.
"There will be four or five guys the IPL would definitely pick up from that team. I don't think that's in any question," Hesson said.
"They like experienced guys; and guys who can either bat at the top or be genuine all-rounders."
Neesham was Otago's star of the tournament and will show his wares for New Zealand in the one-day and Twenty20 matches in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, starting at the end of the month.
The all-rounder averaged 72.5 from five innings at a strike rate of 169, and took six wickets at 27 with an economy rate of 7.3.
"He's performed that well in T20 for a while. In all the warmup games in Sri Lanka he excelled. That's the reason we picked him. He's a powerful ball striker, he bowls at 140kmh and he's a good athlete."
Neesham and Corey Anderson, a similar style of player, provide Hesson with genuine all-rounder options and the coach said there was room for both in the one-day and T20 side.
First, there is a two-test series to prepare for, starting on Wednesday against a side ranked two places below New Zealand at No 10.
Despite the difficult conditions, defeat would be a major embarrassment; even a draw would raise eyebrows.
Tonight's solitary warmup match does not have first-class status so all 15 squad members will get a run at MA Aziz Stadium.
Outside training and matches, the team will be in lockdown at their hotel for safety reasons.
The Black Caps have had seven days in Sri Lanka where they have played a brace of two-day warmup matches against local opposition in extreme heat, where the bowlers were restricted to spells of 3-4 overs.
Hesson said Peter Fulton and BJ Watling each scored centuries and young leg-spinner Ish Sodhi took a five-wicket bag, having arrived from the New Zealand A tour of India and Sri Lanka. Sodhi's extra pace, similar to the local spinners, helped his chances of playing on the sluggish surfaces.
The main selection questions are whether New Zealand play two or three frontline pacemen. If it is the former, then Anderson and Sodhi could both play, although it seems three frontline quicks is the preferred option.
Still, Hesson insisted selection was far from decided. Sometimes on a subcontinent tour it was more a last-man-standing policy, he said.
"We need to get everybody available for selection. We get a lot of sickness over here. Often we wake up and we've got two or three guys that are down. We need to make sure all 15 are ready for selection the day before the test, then we'll make a call.
"We've had five or six guys who have gone down and had a couple of days in bed. Last night, touch wood, everyone was fine. It's a day-by-day proposition."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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