A venue for fast bowlers
Already 1-0 down after a heartbreaking loss in Dunedin, Pakistan should be buoyed by the fact that the next match is at a venue where they've never lost in six Tests. In fact, they won the last two convincingly - by an innings and 12 runs, and by seven wickets, in matches that were also the second Tests of the series, in 1994 and 2003.
New Zealand's results have been more mixed - 14 wins and 16 losses in all - but it's still one of their better home venues. Among grounds where they've played at least five Tests, only in Hamilton do they have a better win-loss ratio. In this decade they've won exactly as many matches as they've lost, though two of those five victories came against Bangladesh.
|New Zealand since 2000||14||5||5||4|
Win the toss and bat or field? Records suggest captains prefer to put the opposition in - it's happened nine times in the 14 matches since 2000. It's generally been a good move too - six of those nine games have ended decisively, with five going the way of the team which won the toss. On the other hand, of the four games which produced a result when teams chose to bat, three were won by the side which lost the toss.
The innings-wise average also suggests the pitch has a bit in it for the bowlers, and doesn't deteriorate towards the end of the game - the fourth innings average runs per wicket is 41.26, but that's because of successful run-chases, when teams knock off targets with the top-order batsmen still batting. The highest successful run-chase during this period belongs to Pakistan - they scored 277 for 3 to record a memorable seven-wicket win in 2003.
|1st innings||2nd innings||3rd innings||4th innings|
Fast bowlers have done much better here than spinners, a fact which further explains the tendency of captains to field first. They concede about ten runs fewer than the spinners per wicket, and have taken 16 five-fors in 14 Tests since 2000. The only spinners to take five-fors during this period are Muttiah Muralitharan and Daniel Vettori. Murali took 10 for 118 in a Test in 2006, but for Vettori wickets have been much harder to come by at the Basin Reserve - in 12 Tests, he has taken 30 at an average touching 40.
The record of fast bowlers at this ground suggests New Zealand will sorely miss Shane Bond, who was outstanding in Dunedin. Pakistan, on the other hand, can take inspiration from the past record of their fast bowlers at this ground, which is better than any other team. In their last two Tests here, at least one bowler has stood up and delivered a match-winning performance. In 1994, Wasim Akram took 11 for 179 to ease Pakistan to an innings win; almost a decade later, Shoaib Akhtar turned the game around in astonishing fashion - New Zealand had taken a first-innings lead of 170, and were comfortably placed at 73 for 2, when Shoaib put in a devastating spell, finishing with 6 for 30 to bundle the hosts out for 103. Mohammad Yousuf, who'd scored 60 in the first innings, then finished off the game with an unbeaten 88.
Among New Zealand's fast bowlers, Chris Martin has the best figures, with 47 wickets from ten Tests. Bond took 15 in his three Tests here at 21.74, but Tim Southee, his replacement in the squad, took just two in his only Test at this ground, against India earlier this year.
|Wickets||Average||Strike rate||5WI/ 10WM|
|Pace since 2000||329||28.67||55.9||16/ 1|
|Spin since 2000||82||38.74||81.8||2/ 2|
|NZ fast bowlers since 2000||191||27.40||51.6||6/ 0|
|Pak fast bowlers - overall||83||23.89||54.7||6/ 2|
Wellington is also a rare venue where batting feats haven't completely dominated the show. In 14 Tests since 2000, there have been 18 five-fors but only 14 hundreds. Out of those 14, New Zealand have contributed just five. (Click here for more details.) Also, there have been 67 half-centuries scored here, indicating that bowlers stand a chance to take wickets even after batsmen have been in for reasonably long periods. Between them, Stephen Fleming and Mark Richardson went past fifty 11 times during this period, but not once could they convert it into a hundred.
Among the New Zealand batsmen in the current squad, Ross Taylor has enjoyed these conditions the most, averaging more than 64, with a lowest of 42 in four innings. Vettori and Brendon McCullum both have averages in the late 20s. (Click here for the full list.)
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo