Pitch report – Queen's Park Oval, Trinidad

New Zealand

Though two of the last three games here ended in draws, it's actually a result venue, often by fairly heavy margins. Teams tend to bat first, to make use of the early pace before it fades and the spin kicks in.

<b>Established:</b> 1896<br><b>Capacity:</b> 25,000<br><b>Floodlights:</b> Yes<br><b>Ends:</b> Brian Lara Pavilion End, Media Centre End<br><b>Home Team:</b> Trinidad & Tobago<br><b>Head Groundsman:</b> Brian Davis<br><b>Test History:</b> 58 (18 Home Wins, 18 Away Wins, 22 Draws)<br><b>Last 10 Tests:</b> 2 Home Wins, 6 Away Wins, 2 Draw<br><b>Last 10 Tosses:</b> 8 Bat First (5 Wins, 1 Loss, 2 Draw), 2 Bowl First (1 Win, 1 Loss)

<b>Overview</b><br>Many believe that the ground in Port of Spain is the most picturesque setting for cricket in the Caribbean, and one of the more aesthetically pleasing in the world, with the Northern Hills giving the stadium an impressive backdrop. Not surprisingly then, the local fans enjoy their cricket, with the leader of the local brigade being a character known fondly as 'Blue Food'.

It is the oldest cricket stadium in the region and became the 20th ground to host Test cricket when the West Indies played England in 1930. Of all the venues in the Caribbean, Queen's Park Oval has hosted the most Test matches.

The lowest West Indian score in Test cricket at the ground is 51 scored against Australia in 1999. However, England's 46 all out in 1994 is the lowest total by any nation here.

<b>Last Time Out</b><br>The most recent Test at Port of Spain was between the Windies and Australia, in April 2012, and it resulted in a draw, with day five ending early due to rain at tea.

It wasn't a particularly high-scoring game, with the Aussies winning the toss and opting to bat first and making 311 all out over nearly two days. It was very slow going, as Kemar Roach took five wickets and Shane Watson top-scored with 56 runs off 172 balls.

The Windies were then all out for 257, at less than three to the over, with spinner Nathan Lyon bagging the five-fer this time. This more illustrated the Windies' weakness against spin, like in the first Test of the current series.

The Aussies' second innings was a poor one, as they made 160 for eight and against seeing Roach take a five-fer. They declared with eight wickets down after lunch on day five, leaving the Windies a target of 215. The hosts made 53 for two before the rain arrived.

<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b><br>Of the current players on both sides, Shivnarine Chanderpaul is by far the most successful here, averaging nearly 45 in 12 Tests, with a top score of 147 not out. He comes into the game on the back of a half ton in Jamaica.

Otherwise, Chris Gayle has played eight games here but averages less than 29… and that's about it. As for the Kiwis, the last time they played here was in 1985 so most of this team wasn't even born yet, let alone playing cricket.

With the ball, Kemar Roach has had recent success here, with 10 wickets last time, but he's not even on the wicket-taking list. Amusingly, part-time spinner Chris Gayle is the only current bowler on the list, with 12 wickets at an average of 19.91.

<b>They Said</b><br>Kemar Roach on taking Ricky Ponting's wicket: "Ricky Ponting's a great batsman, a legend of cricket. To get that wicket, on a difficult pitch, easy for batting, it's very good. I'll keep coming at him, that's my job, and I want to do it to the best of my ability."

New Zealand paceman Tim Southee ahead of this Test: "One thing I've learnt is if the wickets aren't coming, don't go looking for them. Especially on wickets like this (Caribbean). Patience is going to be massive."

<b>Weather Forecast</b><br>Day one is forecast to have a bit of rain around, and then clearing for days two and three. The most likely to be affected is day four, with an 80 percent chance of rain. It's going to be hot and muggy though.

<b>Conclusion</b><br>Though two of the last three games here ended in draws, it's actually a result venue, often by fairly heavy margins. Teams tend to bat first, to make use of the early pace before it fades and the spin kicks in.

The Windies are in dire form, even worse against spinners, so unless they can decimate the Kiwis with the ball, relying on newly-fit Roach and hope their spinners are effective, it could be another win for the batting-superior Black Caps.