WELLINGTON (Reuters) – A green Basin Reserve wicket was welcomed by New Zealand’s Tim Southee after his recent exertions against Pakistan on dry, low and slow pitches in the United Arab Emirates, but the paceman was quick to point out that looks can often be deceiving.
New Zealand open their domestic test season against Sri Lanka on Saturday and were greeted by a verdant strip at the country’s most historic ground, where sides that win the toss tend to try and exploit the seamer-friendly conditions.
However, Neil Wagner used a short-pitched barrage to set up the hosts’ victory against West Indies last December, while South African spinners JP Duminy and Keshav Maharaj ran through New Zealand in the first innings in March 2017.
Two months earlier against Bangladesh, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson won the toss and opted to field, but watched his bowlers toil for almost two days before Mushfiqur Rahim declared his side’s innings closed at 595 for eight.
“It’s nice to be back in conditions we’re used to,” Southee told reporters. “We’ve come from a place that wasn’t easy for pace bowlers, so there was a bit of a spring in the step of the fast bowlers anyway.
“It’s nice to see some grass on the wicket but… we don’t know what it’s going to play like until we get out there. You can get in and it can be a batting paradise as well.”
New Zealand enter the two-match series, their first at home under new coach Gary Stead, flying high after they beat Pakistan in an away series for the first time in almost 50 years.
The 2-1 triumph came courtesy of the turn and bounce achieved by spinners Ajaz Patel and Will Somerville, as well as Williamson’s batting in the decider, but Southee said they had already moved on and were focused on Dinesh Chandimal’s side.
“It’s something the group is very proud of,” he said of the victory. “A lot of good sides have gone to the UAE and haven’t been able to tip Pakistan up.
“We know we can’t let that overhang into our home summer and start afresh in different conditions.”
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by John O’Brien)