The Indian players walked up and down the Eden Park pitch for today's first test, peering at it as if searching for worms.

A couple got down on hands and knees and brushed the grass, if not quite lovingly, then certainly with a high degree of curiosity. We don't see that much of the green stuff at Ahmedabad, they might have been muttering.

A veteran Indian journalist playfully wagged a finger at groundsman Blair Christiansen.

"There is a lot of grass," he said, to which Christiansen quipped that there was "plenty for the goats to munch on". The journalist, with a grin, repeated his assertion.


All the while, India's coach Duncan Fletcher was pacing the pitch, giving it a good deal of attention.

New Zealand's captain Brendon McCullum got his answer out before the question of what to do should he break a drought and win the toss this morning - "we'll look to have a bowl first".

The greens of golf and bowls are perhaps cricket's only rivals for the fascination held for a strip of grassed turf. Then again, it can decide the shape of the contest, and who dictate terms, batsmen or bowlers, seamers or spinners.

Appearances can be deceptive. Eyes see things that aren't there. Expect plenty of movement and sometimes there's less than you think.

This drop-in pitch hasn't been used since the nailbiter against England last March, when the visitors clung on for a draw with their last pair of batsmen at the crease.

Both teams have quality seamers. McCullum respects the abilities of India's likely lads, Zaheer Khan, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma, but backs his own Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner.

"They've got some seamers who can ask tough questions if ball goes sideways.

"But it's no surprise these conditions should suit us more than them."

This is Christiansen's first test in charge. He's happy with preparations.

The pitch was put in after the Wellington Phoenix A-League soccer win over the Adelaide United last Saturday night.