Black Caps bowlers hope for first use of Seddon Park deck against Sri Lanka
It's a fine Friday morning in Hamilton where the Black Caps are hoping to bowl first in the second test against Sri Lanka.
The five-day forecast is mostly fine for the match at Seddon Park with the MetService forecasting sun and daily highs of 24 degrees Celsius. There was a chance of afternoon showers to accompany a southerly breeze on Friday.
Black Caps seamers Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Doug Bracewell will be fizzing to make the most of conditions at Hamilton's Seddon Park on Friday morning.
Should captain Brendon McCullum win the toss they know the ball will be in their hands bright and early with a favourable pitch and ideal conditions for swing bowling expected.
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Vice-captain Kane Williamson said Hamilton offered up typical English conditions for the second test against Sri Lanka, with swing the likely difference maker as his team look to take 20 wickets for the second game in a row.
That means bowl first and make the most of a pitch with good grass covering, and no changes to the team from the previous victory over Sri Lanka.
"It's green. Dunedin was green, and we feel it might be more suited to seam bowling," Williamson said, adding that the team was picked based on the conditions as well as player form.
"A combination of both. I do think it's more important to look at the conditions - horses for courses, as they say.
"Every surface that we play on here starts out green. I think that it will be a good cricket surface but if it swings, that's when I think it offers more to the bowlers.
"We played a first class game here a wee while back before Australia and it was very green, but it was more the swing that did a lot, so if it's hard underneath it might just add a bit of pace to the surface. I'm sure it'll be pretty tough early on."
Playing on a wicket that hasn't been used for tests before, using Patumahoe clay that was added to the Seddon Park block only two years ago, there is an element of the unknown to the pitch.
But given the amount of grass on the wicket both teams were clear that with a win of the coin flip bowlers would be ready to roll their arms over.
For New Zealand that means no place for spinner Mark Craig.
Craig was last sighted in the day-night test against Australia in Adelaide at the end of November, missing out on the Black Caps XI picked in Dunedin last week.
Mitchell Santner appears to have overtaken Craig in the spinners pecking order with assured displays in his first two tests, the first of which was the day-nighter in Adelaide.
It's early days, but Santner has taken six wickets in his two test caps at an average of 25.33 and an impressive economy rate of 2.48 runs per over. Craig averages 44.21 at 3.84 per over.
Instead of a Craig sighting, Neil Wagner will continue as New Zealand's fourth bowling option after a reminder of his qualities in the first test against Sri Lanka.
His efforts bowling hard into the dead University Oval wicket earned him five wickets, and a similar role may be required as the wicket browns off in Hamilton.
"It was a huge effort from the bowlers to take 20 wickets on that surface," Williamson said.
"We know in Dunedin that it can offer a little bit for the seamers early on but it does tend to flatten out.
"That's probably similar to here."
Sri Lanka will also be fancying their chances of knocking New Zealand over should they get an early chance with the ball.
Captain Angelo Mathews said he wasn't surprised by the green wicket, especially after the wicket they saw in Dunedin.
"It got pretty flat after the second or third day," Mathews said.
"We kind of expected this to be a bit more grassy and some lateral movement. I think it's just a matter of getting our mindsets right."