Pitch report: Basin Reserve, Wellington
Whoever wins the toss should bowl first, and hope they don't get the opposition out so quickly that the pitch is still dangerous. Though to be fair, this track is always a swing paradise, to the side with the best top order will do the best.
<b>Established:</b> 1868<br><b>Capacity:</b> 11,600<br><b>Floodlights:</b> No<br><b>Ends:</b> Vance Stand End, Scoreboard End<br><b>Home Team:</b> Wellington<br><b>Test History:</b> 55 Tests; 15 home wins; 18 away wins; 22 draws<br><b>Last 10 Tests:</b> 3 home wins; 3 away wins; 4 draws<br><b>Last 10 tosses:</b> 3 batted first (2 wins, 1 draw); 7 bowled first (1 win, 3 defeats, 3 draws)
<b>Overview</b><br>The Basin Reserve hosted its first Test in 1930, when openers Stewie Dempster and Jack Mills became the first New Zealanders to score Test tons in their stand of 276. England were the visitors on that occasion, and managed to hold on for a draw.
It wasn't until 1969 that New Zealand tasted victory on their most beautiful ground (it's protected by an Act of Parliament and is the only sports ground on New Zealand's National Heritage list) when the West Indies were the visitors.
Nestled beneath Mount Victoria and Mount Cook, the Basin is a proper cricket ground, with a cracking sun-trap of a grass bank on the eastern side, which also offers shelter from the notoriously unpredictable southerly winds that can whip across the ground.
The Basin Reserve owes its existence to an 1855 earthquake that levelled out enough ground for a cricket field, and is the scene of many of New Zealand cricket's finest moments: Sir Richard Hadlee took his 300th Test wicket here, while Martin Crowe (299) and Andrew Jones (186) put on 467 for the third wicket against Sri Lanka in 1990-1 – at that time a world record.
<b>Last Time Out</b><br>The most recent Test here was not long ago, in December 2013, where the West Indies were at the harsh end of an innings defeat. The Kiwis won with two days to spare, thanks to a 10-wicket match by Trent Boult.
The Windies won the toss and chose to field first, and gave up 441 runs, with a century to Ross Taylor. The Kiwis then bowled the visitors out for 193, with Boult taking six, and then again for 175 late on day three.
<b>They Said</b><br>West Indies skipper Darren Sammy after the defeat: "The wicket does a bit but you have to stay out there in the middle, we weren't able to do that.
"I think we've had the better part of the pitch on both occasions, good conditions to bowl. Credit must go to the New Zealand bowlers, especially Trent Boult. The way he exploited the conditions is something as a bowling group we've not been able to do here."
Windies coach Ottis Gibson: "Any time you see a wicket with grass on like we have here, especially this one where the ball swung as well, of course you expect better from your attack when you win the toss and put the opposition in. You don't expect them to make 441."
Groundskeeper Brett Sipthorpe said this week: "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."
<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b><br>Ross Taylor is tops of the current lot, averaging over 60 in eight Tests, including the ton he made last time out. He's in cracking form, so another big score could be on the cards.
Brendon McCullum is next on the list, but he's played 14 matches here and averages around 30. But he scored a double ton in the previous Test, so will be very confident against India's below par attack.
India last played here in 2009, and of that side only MS Dhoni and Zaheer Khan remain. Zak took a five-fer, showing how good this track is for fast bowlers as long as the rain stays away. Incidentally, Taylor made a ton in that game too.
<b>Weather Forecast</b><br>Day one is set to rain, and while the rest of the game is forecast to have cloud cover, hopefully the final four days will allow enough play for a result. Temperatures are due to be in the low 20s.
<b>Conclusion</b><br>Whoever wins the toss should bowl first, and hope they don't get the opposition out so quickly that the pitch is still dangerous. Though to be fair, this track is always a swing paradise, to the side with the best top order will do the best.
We'd imagine the Kiwis will do very well, given their pace attack is superior to India's, aside from Mohammed Shami, and this is not a track for the spinners so Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja shouldn't get much purchase.
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