Greentops the order of day from Mike Hesson

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 24/12/2013
Mike Hesson
Getty Images
WATER PLEASE: Black Caps coach Mike Hesson wants plenty of moisture in the pitches for the two tests against India.

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Groundsmen, unfurl the garden hoses. New Zealand coach Mike Hesson has made his first Christmas wish, for grassy, bouncy pitches in the two February cricket tests against world No 2 India.

Fresh off an eight-wicket win over West Indies on a much dryer, more spin friendly pitch than they'd hoped for in Hamilton, Hesson wanted to emphasise the point to curators in Auckland and Wellington.

Asked if he would demand greentops for the India series, Hesson said: "Absolutely. We'll back our seamers over anyone's at the moment. We know these conditions as a batting group. Our batsmen bat on conditions that nip around in first-class cricket so they're used to it and it can expose your technique if you're not.

"I think everyone's aware of the type of surface that we'd like. We've been in India before and they've changed the pitch the day before a game because it wasn't quite as dry as they would like. We certainly don't get any favours when we travel so I'd be disappointed if we provide any at home."

That could evoke memories of the 2002-03 series where a powerhouse India batting lineup were clueless on pitches of similar emerald hue to the outfield as the New Zealand pacemen ran amok.

New Zealand were happy with what curator Brett Sipthorpe produced at the Basin Reserve for their innings victory against West Indies, helped by swing-friendly conditions.

And Hesson was confident Eden Park's new curator Blair Christiansen would also heed his words. The drop-in pitch usually offers good bounce and carry but isn't known for being a green seamer.

"They're a pretty skilful group up there, they know exactly what needs to be done. When you've got pace and bounce you're bringing everyone into the game."

That could mean limited bowling for young legspinner Ish Sodhi against his country of birth, but Hesson is unfazed.

Sodhi, 21, took five wickets at an average of 60 in his first home series as the fast men dominated, and showed promise with the bat. His variations, particularly his googly, stood out the most, and Hesson echoed captain Brendon McCullum's positive thoughts on the youngster.

"He hasn't played a huge role the last couple of games which is quite nice. He's coming along beautifully," Hesson said.

"Him going to Australia for a couple of days will be great just to talk legspin bowling with Shane Warne [this weekend]. He's excited about that.

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"He's just a young fella who's incredibly keen to learn and he gets better with every opportunity so he's a guy that we're keen to spend some time on."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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