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Rediff.com  » Cricket » 1st Test: All you need to know about New Zealand v Australia

1st Test: All you need to know about New Zealand v Australia

February 11, 2016 11:24 IST

Steve Smith

IMAGE: Australia’s Steve Smith and David Warner speaks with New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum. Photograph: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Swing and seam friendly conditions, a lack of truly scary Australian bowlers and New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum's retirement are all themes that will resonate when the first Test gets underway in Wellington on Friday.

The Basin Reserve wicket was heavily grassed just 48 hours out from the toss and, even if brilliant sunshine in New Zealand's capital was expected to brown it off, McCullum and Steve Smith are still likely to ask the opposition to bat.

Similarly-grassed pitches in New Zealand in recent years have not helped the fast bowlers as much as expected, however, as both captains noted on Thursday.

"I think the wicket will dry out quicker than what you'd expect," McCullum said. "The first two days will be challenging for the batsmen ... (and) you have to just hang in there and get a competitive score.

"It's not going to be the 500 or 600 but you just have to be competitive and then the third and fourth innings are where things take shape."

Despite having won 29 of their 55 previous tests against New Zealand and taken the home encounter 2-0 last November, Australia are not overwhelming favourites to win the series and reclaim the number one ranking in Test cricket.

Factbox for the first Test between New Zealand and Australia, which starts in Wellington on Friday:

MATCH FACTS

Feb 12-16 (day match, 2130 GMT start)

Basin Reserve (capacity 13,000)

Umpires: Richard Kettleborough (England), Richard Illingworth (England)

Third umpire: Ranmore Martinesz (Sri Lanka)

Match referee: Chris Broad (England)

NEW ZEALAND

Test ranking: 6

Captain: Brendon McCullum

Coach: Mike Hesson

Highest ranked batsman: Kane Williamson (3)

Highest ranked bowler: Trent Boult (7)

New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (captain), Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson, Henry Nicholls, Corey Anderson, BJ Watling, Mark Craig, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Trent Boult

AUSTRALIA

Test ranking: 2

Captain: Steve Smith

Coach: Darren Lehmann

Highest ranked batsman: Smith (1)

Highest ranked bowler: Josh Hazlewood (8)

Australia: Steve Smith (captain), Joe Burns, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Test matches played: 55

New Zealand wins: 8

Australia wins: 29

Draws: 18

PREVIOUS WELLINGTON TESTS

1946 Australia won by innings & 103 runs

1974 Match drawn

1982 Match drawn

1986 Match drawn

1990 New Zealand won by nine wickets

1993 Match drawn

2000 Australia won by six wickets

2005 Match drawn

2010 Australia won by 10 wickets

AGENCIES