Pitch report: Eden Park, Auckland

Reports & previews

Kiwi coach Mike Hesson has said he plans on employing the short ball to the spin-loving Indian batsmen, provided the pitch plays along. One imagines the pacemen will have to make hay early on, as the pitch will start to slow and turn later in the game.

<b>Established:</b> 1901<br><b>Capacity:</b> 50,000<Br><b>Floodlights:</b> Yes<br><b>Ends:</b> Broadcasting End, Terraces End<br><b>Home Team:</b> Auckland<br><b>Test History:</b> 48 Tests; 9 home wins; 15 away wins; 24 draws<br><b>Last 10 Tests:</b> 4 home wins; 3 away wins; 3 draws<br><b>Last 10 tosses:</b> 4 batted first (3 wins, 1 draw); 6 bowled first (3 wins, 3 draws)

<b>Overview</b><br>Gone are the days of Eden Park's debt-ridden doubts, with its $256 million redevelopment in 2010 breathing new life on the country's biggest sporting stadium – formerly a swamp – and at the foothills of Mount Eden.

The Test against England in 2013 saw a venue with a rich history, recently lined with Rugby World Cup matches and Super Rugby fixtures, return to Test cricket after a seven-year hiatus. A trust, started in 1926, ran the venue's finances until this year, when the Auckland Council took over – effectively giving ratepayers control.

Temporary seating in front of the North and West Stands (usually only used for international rugby matches) is required for the capacity to be reached. Due to sightscreens and the larger playing area – and the odd grass embankment for the crowd – cricket capacity is less.

<b>Last Time Out</b><br>The most recent Test was between the Kiwis and England in May 2013, which ended in a draw thanks to Matt Prior's heroic century on day five, with England nine down at the close.

The hosts would have been disappointed with the draw, given their dominant position for much of the match. Peter Fulton's century in the first innings saw the Black Caps post 443 all out, before England were 204 all out.

The hosts then declared on 241 for six, after another ton by Fulton, and were clearly assuming they'd bag the win. But Prior came to the rescue with his side on 159 for six, and he batted with the tail until the close on day five.

<b>They Said</b><br>New Zealand coach Mike Hesson: "Eden Park does not look that green. Drop-in pitches are never green as it is and they always do something on their own. We don't give orders as such but we are pretty clear about what sort of pitches we want. But there is also a certain risk involved in that as well considering how good the Indian seamers are.

"Look, green wickets won't stay green for five days. The seamers need to do their job in first two or three days. The pitches have to be very green for us to not play a spinner."

Groundsman Blair Christiansen: "It's not too different from last year, it's got a bit of grass on it at the moment and it'll probably stay like that to be fair. So maybe similar to some of the one day wickets we've had, but a little more grass maybe."

<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b><br>Opener <b>Peter Fulton</b> is the most successful batsman of the current lot, given the one Test here in the past seven years, with his two tons against England. Brendon McCullum has played four Tests here, at an average under 40.

As for the bowlers, <b>Trent Boult</b> took six wickets in the first innings against England, and Kane Williamson bagged four when the pitch started to turn later on, but otherwise none of the current players on either side have much of a record here.

<b>Weather Forecast</b><br>Oh dear… The weather forecast on the BBC does not look pretty, as only day three is set to be relatively clear. Whether it will be rainy or just plain overcast for the rest of the time remains to be seen.

<b>Conclusion</b><br>Kiwi coach Mike Hesson has said he plans on employing the short ball to the spin-loving Indian batsmen, provided the pitch plays along. One imagines the pacemen will have to make hay early on, as the pitch will start to slow and turn later in the game.

This ground has seen nearly 50 Tests, and half of those have ended in draws, showing that batting becomes easier as the game progresses, provided one stays focused. India's spinners should, conversely, enjoy this despite an overall poor bowling effort in recent months.

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