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March 13, 2013
Match factsMarch 14, 2013
Had the first Test been decided on a points decision, there is little doubt that most judges would have awarded it to New Zealand. After bowling out England for 167 - their lowest first innings score since 2009 - the hosts replied with 460 to take a first innings lead of 293; their third highest against England in completed innings. While a flat pitch and some determined England batting prevented a repeat in the second innings, it was England who benefited most from the first day having been lost to rain.
But the fact is that the match was drawn and, bearing in mind the history of England improving after a faltering start, New Zealand may come to reflect that they have missed their best opportunity to strike a telling blow. Worryingly for New Zealand, this pitch is expected to provide more assistance to the England seamers.
It certainly proved that way in 2008. After New Zealand won the opening Test in Hamilton, England struck back at Wellington with Tim Ambrose recording his only Test century and claiming the man of the match award as England leveled the series. They subsequently went on to win it by prevailing in the final Test in Napier.
It remains to be seen how much the effort in Dunedin took out of the New Zealand side. While they should have taken confidence from some aspects of their performance, the concern is that their three seamers bowled 114 overs between them in the second innings in their pursuit of victory. With so little time to recover between the games, Wellington will offer a stern test of their stamina. The ability of Steven Finn, who went into the Dunedin Test with few pretensions as a batsman, to resist the New Zealand bowlers for nearly five hours in the second innings might also prove sobering for the hosts.
Still, any fears New Zealand had over the potency of England's seam attack should have been eased by the Dunedin performance. Indeed, in three first-class innings on the tour to date, England have yet to bowl out their opposition with the New Zealand XI in Queenstown declaring in their first innings and completing a testing fourth-innings target with three wickets in hand in their second innings.
New Zealand DLLWL (Completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Had Martin Guptill been fit, it is highly likely that Hamish Rutherford would not have played in the first Test in Dunedin. Rutherford seized his chance with some style, though, and in scoring 171 set a new high for an opener on debut against England. Only Mathew Sinclair, who made 214 on debut against West Indies in 1999, has made a higher score on New Zealand Test debut. Rutherford's excellent start has buoyed home hopes that a line-up containing Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Brendon McCullum and, one day, perhaps, Jesse Ryder, might have the potential to develop into the strongest batting unit in New Zealand's Test history.
Stuart Broad's form has been the subject of much debate. But while the focus has tended to fall on his bowling - he claimed his first Test wickets since August in Dunedin - his batting has - arguably - fallen away more sharply. Since he last made a half-century - in January 2012 against Pakistan in the UAE - he has had 16 Test innings, passed 20 only four times with a highest score of 37 and averaged only 13.60. Perhaps more remarkably, in that time the average balls he has faced in a completed innings is just under 20. Such statistics do little to support the claim that he can be viewed as an allrounder and suggests that he may be batting too high at No.8.
New Zealand will be unchanged and England are likely to follow the same route. For New Zealand, Doug Bracewell has not recovered from the foot injury sustained while cleaning up glass after a party while for England Kevin Pietersen is expected to play despite what Andy Flower described as "a little bit of pain in his right knee." Flower went on to say: "Most of the players play with something sore most of the time. I don't anticipate it being a huge problem for us at all."
New Zealand 1 Peter Fulton, 2 Hamish Rutherford, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Dean Brownlie, 6 Brendon McCullum (capt), 7 BJ Watling (wk), 8 Tim Southee, 9 Bruce Martin/Ian Butler, 10 Neil Wagner, 11 Trent Boult.
England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Nick Compton, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Ian Bell, 6 Joe Root, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Stuart Broad, 9 James Anderson, 10 Steven Finn, 11 Monty Panesar*.
Pitch and conditions
The pitch is expected to have more pace and bounce than Dunedin, with some claiming it is the quickest in New Zealand. The last time England played here, Ryan Sidebottom and James Anderson both gained swing movement and claimed five-wicket hauls and it is worth noting that Chris Martin, with 60 wickets in 14 Tests, is the highest Test wicket-taker on the ground. Bowlers capable of generating bounce should enjoy it.
New Zealand have not won any of the last six Tests on the ground. The last two - against South Africa in 2012 and Pakistan in 2011 - have been drawn, though the weather played a role on both occasions.
Wind may also play a role. Wellington is a notoriously windy city and some bowlers struggle to adapt to the challenge of running into it. Shane Bond, the New Zealand bowling coach, has admitted it is an experience that all three of his side's leading seamers are unaccustomed to having developed as strike bowlers running in with the wind behind them.
Stats and trivia
"We always knew the guys are fit, and can bowl a lot of volume, we just need to make sure they are fresh and ready to go."
Shane Bond, the New Zealand bowling coach reflecting on the fitness of his side's three seamers, Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner, who delivered 114 of the 170 overs in England's second innings in Dunedin.
"I'd rather have been batting for 170 overs than fielding, let's put it that way."
*06.40GMT, March 13: The preview had previously listed Graeme Swann in the line-up.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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