The green, green grass of home at Basin Reserve
There was no respite for the beleaguered Indian cricket team as curator Brett Sipthorpe lifted the covers at the Basin Reserve yesterday.
Four days of Wellington rain has hindered pitch preparations for the second and final test, starting on Friday, and all but guaranteed the surface will be a green, seamers' paradise.
"I don't expect they'll be too happy when they see that," said a laughing Sipthorpe, as the rain eased to finally allow some work yesterday.
Sipthorpe prides himself on producing wickets with pace and bounce and New Zealand had requested "same again, please" to the pitch on which they romped to an innings and 73-run victory over the West Indies in December.
Darren Sammy inserted the hosts but after the early loss of the openers, a Ross Taylor century guided the Blacks Caps to 441 which proved more than sufficient as Trent Boult (10-80) ran amok.
The world No 2-ranked Indians are yet to post a win on tour after being thumped 4-0 in the ODIs before falling to a 40-run defeat in the first test.
But their pace attack of Mohammed Shami, Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma proved they can thrive in New Zealand conditions by skittling the hosts for 105 in the second innings at Eden Park.
Sipthorpe said it was a "guarantee" that the toss winning captain would bowl first on Friday.
"It's had good pace and bounce in it this summer and basically we're aiming for exactly what we had for the West Indies one. That was nice and bouncy and had a little bit of nip around, which suits the seamers.
"It just depends on what the weather brings us. If we have to take a little more off we will, but we don't want to lose our pace and grass cover is pace. We'll do everything we can to try to keep as much grass on as we possibly can."
Sipthorpe said Jeetan Patel's success for Wellington this summer showed that spinners could succeed at the Basin.
But their major weapon would be bounce, rather than spin.
"With the weather we've got leading into this one, there's almost no chance of it drying out to bring spinners right into it. But Jeets has taken a couple of four-fors here for Wellington and I think the bounce will be the key."
Jesse Ryder and Doug Bracewell were yesterday fined an undisclosed amount and dropped from the New Zealand squad after a late-night drinking episode on the eve of the first test.
They were replaced by Canterbury batsman Tom Latham and Otago all-rounder Jimmy Neesham, neither of whom have played a test.
Latham, 21, has already scored 2341 first-class runs at an average of 41.8. The left-hander will play if Taylor's second child is not born before the test.
"Tom's an incredibly exciting prospect and is constantly pushing for selection," selection manager Bruce Edgar said.
"If called upon, we're confident he'll take the opportunity with both hands."
Neesham could play if selectors decide Ish Sodhi's leg-spin is surplus to requirements at the Basin.
Meanwhile, New Zealand head of cricket operations Lindsay Crocker said Ryder and Bracewell had damaged their relationship with the selectors by drinking till 3am on the morning of the first test.
"The New Zealand selectors place great emphasis on qualities such as personal responsibility, trustworthiness and dependability and will continue to do so with our encouragement," Crocker said.
New Zealand (from): Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum, Corey Anderson, BJ Watling, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Tom Latham, Jimmy Neesham
The Dominion Post