Toss to be crucial once again in second one-dayer

MARK GEENTY IN NAPIER
Last updated 05:00 28/12/2013

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Home skipper Brendon McCullum expects another McLean Park "belter", but it seems the coin toss will again have a significant influence on tomorrow's second one-day international.

West Indies' two-wicket victory in Thursday's low-scoring series opener in Auckland was the 18th consecutive time in a test, ODI or T20 international in New Zealand that the toss winner had chosen to bowl first.

The school of thought generally holds true; that New Zealand pitches will offer some movement for the pacemen early on, and totals are tougher to defend on the small grounds as the chasing side benefit from the white ball skidding on to the bat in the evening dew in day-nighters.

The last bat-first option was taken by McCullum in the first ODI against South Africa at Wellington's Westpac Stadium in February 2012, a game New Zealand lost by six wickets.

In six ODIs in New Zealand since then, against South Africa, England and West Indies, the side winning the toss and bowling first went on to win.

McLean Park's recent history also backs the side chasing runs.

Barring the one-sided romp against Zimbabwe in February 2012, the last four Napier ODIs were won by the side chasing. In the past three, New Zealand couldn't defend 269 (against England in February), 230 (against South Africa in 2012) and 262-7 (against Pakistan in 2011).

New Zealand's last bowl-first ODI in Napier was in March 2010, highlighted by the Mitchell Johnson-Scott Styris mid-pitch head clash, when the hosts chased down Australia's 275-8 with four balls to spare.

Napier's forecast for occasional showers on Sunday, and the prospect of a shortened Duckworth-Lewis equation, will further boost the side bowling first.

McLean Park hasn't hosted a top-level cricket match this summer, with Central Districts playing their home matches at nearby Nelson Park. Locals confirm curator Phil Stoyanoff has produced the obligatory belter which was ready for play several days ago, meaning showers yesterday and today shouldn't adversely affect it.

"The wickets that we get there are always well paced, good bounce, nice even grass covering and generally high scoring and hopefully that's what we'll get," McCullum said.

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- Fairfax Media

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