Black Caps seamer Kyle Jamieson will make his test debut against India tomorrow, but a decision on Ajaz Patel's return to the side is still to be made, as the Black Caps puzzle over the Basin Reserve pitch.
The Black Caps have cut their squad down to 12 ahead of tomorrow's first test against India in Wellington, with Jamieson confirmed to play his maiden test after Neil Wagner stayed home to await the birth of his first child, and Wagner's replacement, Matt Henry, was today omitted from contention.
That leaves spinner Patel and all-rounder Daryl Mitchell vying for the final spot, with Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson and coach Gary Stead wanting one final look at the wicket tomorrow morning after spotting an unusual element in their early inspections.
"It's weighing up what will be the biggest threat from the options that we have - it's a slightly different looking surface than we're used to," explained Williamson.
"We're confident it will be a good cricket wicket, there's just some different colouring on it which we just want to check."
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Recent tests at the Basin Reserve have seen plenty on offer for the seamers early before flattening into an excellent batting wicket, and the last New Zealand spinner to take five wickets in an innings at the Basin was Daniel Vettori, in 2006.
That leaves a question mark over the value of Patel, especially given his lack of batting ability. The alternative would see a bowling attack made up of three frontline seamers – Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Jamieson - and two seam-bowling all-rounders in Colin de Grandhomme and Mitchell.
That would provide the Black Caps with a deep batting lineup – de Grandhomme batting at eight and Jamieson at nine – but despite three wickets for the New Zealand XI in their warm-up against India, there are doubts over the effectiveness of Mitchell's bowling at test level.
While Patel is still odds-on to play his eighth test, Basin Reserve head groundsman Hagen Faith warned that there won't be much turn on offer for the spinners during the test.
"From a perfect point of view, we'd like to see the spinners come into play, but we've got a nice grass coverage out there, and I'd be surprised to see any sort of drastic turn - it'll be the bounce which will offer anything to the spinners," Faith said.
"We're trying to get a good even contest going – pace and bounce. We're trying to put a little bit more moisture in there as well just to really make sure we get through those five days."
Despite his curiosity, Williamson doesn't have many concerns about the pitch - knowing that sometimes the colour of the wicket can be deceiving - and the captain ultimately predicts a similar style of match to previous tests in his home conditions.
"At times when the surface has been green it's still played very well. We've seen in New Zealand there is some assistance early on, but the pace and bounce you also might get provides opportunities for scoring so there is some balance there – it's never a given, even when the surface is green."