History makes pitch to bowl first in capital

Last updated 05:00 14/02/2013

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The statistics don't lie, and neither does the curator.

If you win the toss at Westpac Stadium in a Twenty20 cricket international, bowl first.

All four T20 internationals at the ground have been won by the side chasing, with the highest innings total a relatively small 162 for eight by New Zealand against Sri Lanka in 2006.

Despite the trend of the New Zealand-England series so far, with two big wins by the side batting first, stadium turf manager Brett Sipthorpe said, in the past, batting became easier under lights in Wellington.

"Normally, it helps the batting because the ball skids on a bit more with the dew. It doesn't tend to move around with the dew, so I wouldn't have thought it would help the bowling team all that much, plus the ball starts getting a bit more slippery," Sipthorpe said.

The touring England side might be surprised to hear this, after captain Stuart Broad admitted he got it wrong in Hamilton by bowling first.

New Zealand's pacemen, led by Mitchell McClenaghan, seemed to get more assistance in the second innings.

"In New Zealand, definitely it speeds up and skids on a bit more, especially for us quicks it's good as long as you're bowling a good line and length. It definitely suited me and Buttsy [Ian Butler] in Hamilton," McClenaghan said.

New Zealand beat South Africa in their tour opener at the stadium a year ago, restricting the tourists to 147 for six, then cantering home by six wickets.

Sipthorpe said this was the same drop-in pitch used for the South Africa game, which had good pace and bounce.

It was his preferred pitch, which had been used seven or eight times.

It was a different strip to the one that turned prodigiously in the Wellington-Auckland game in November.

The forecast is good for the next two days, with long, fine spells but the chance of a late shower on game day tomorrow. Ticket sales had been sluggish but New Zealand Cricket hoped they would pick up with the fine weather and the Black Caps' 55-run win in Hamilton, which forced a decider.

Tomorrow's game starts at 7pm.

So far in the Twenty20 series, which is poised 1-1, 23,758 people watched the series opener in Auckland, while there were 7625 fans at Seddon Park on Tuesday.

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- The Dominion Post

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