CHRISTCHURCH, Feb 29 (Reuters) - New Zealand captain Kane Williamson won the toss and chose to bowl first in the second and final test against India at Hagley Oval on Saturday.
The last remnants of some overnight rain delayed the toss by 45 minutes but the covers came off to reveal a green wicket not dissimilar to the track on which New Zealand romped to victory by 10 wickets in the first test in Wellington.
“There’s certainly that opportunity to put the ball in the right areas and get some rewards and that’s the challenge for us first off,” said Williamson.
The Blacks Caps, as expected, welcomed back quick Neil Wagner after he missed the first test to attend the birth of his first child. Spinner Ajaz Patel was dropped.
The tourists will therefore face a barrage of pace bowling with a five-pronged New Zealand seam attack looking to exploit the conditions.
“I would have bowled first as well,” said India captain Virat Kohli.
“You have to be ready to do the difficult things in test cricket to win matches, particularly in conditions that are not your own.”
For India, seamer Ishant Sharma was ruled out of the match by the recurrence of an ankle injury and replaced by Umesh Yadav, while Ravindra Jadeja came in for fellow spin-bowling all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin to strengthen the batting.
New Zealand: Tom Latham, Tom Blundell, Kane Williamson (captain), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.
India: Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah. (Writing by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Pritha Sarkar)