March 22, 2018 / 12:49 AM / a month ago

NZ to field in first test, Root to bat at three

AUCKLAND (Reuters) - New Zealand captain Kane Williamson won the toss and chose to field on Thursday in the first test of the two-match series against England at Eden Park.

Cricket - Test Match - New Zealand v England - Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, March 22, 2018. The New Zealand and England teams stand together for their national anthems before the start of the first day of the first cricket test match. REUTERS/David Gray

New Zealand had named their side on Wednesday for the day-night test, with batsman Ross Taylor passed fit after recovering from a thigh injury that forced him out of two of the five one-day matches earlier this month.

Legspinner Todd Astle has replaced the injured Mitchell Santner, while wicketkeeper BJ Watling has recovered from a hip injury and returned in place of Tom Blundell, who played the series against West Indies in December.

“We’re going to bowl and make use of it first up and hope there is a little something in it because we don’t think it will deteriorate very much,” Williamson said.

Cricket - Test Match - New Zealand v England - Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, March 22, 2018. England team players stand together for their national anthem before the start of the first day of the first cricket test match. REUTERS/David Gray

“It’s pretty exciting. There are a lot of unknowns because there hasn’t been much pink ball cricket.”

All-rounder Ben Stokes, who picked up a back injury during the one-day series, was confirmed in the England team, with Craig Overton coming as an extra bowler in case Stokes is unable to bowl during the test.

Cricket - Test Match - New Zealand v England - Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, March 22, 2018. England's Alastair Cook comes out to bat for the start of the first day of the first cricket test match. REUTERS/David Gray

Batsman James Vince was dropped to accommodate Overton.

Captain Joe Root, who is to move up to number three in the order, said his side would have batted first had they won the toss.

“We would have had a bat,” Root said at the toss.

“It looks like a good surface and it might have a little bit of life in it for the first few hours but at least we’re guaranteed batting in daylight for the first two sessions.

“Ben (Stokes) is a day-by-day process. We have to keep monitoring him and he’ll bat at five. I’ll bat at three for this test.”

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, Todd Astle, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.

England: Joe Root (captain), Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Craig Overton, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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