When Virat Kohli, unprompted, brought up the significance of losing the toss in his Indian side's 10-wicket defeat to the Black Caps in the first test in Wellington, it could easily have been interpreted as sour grapes.

However, it's hard to deny it was the biggest factor in his side's eventual thrashing.

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Remarkably, the Black Caps have not lost a home test after winning the toss since 2009, when they bowled first against Pakistan in Wellington, only to then be rolled for 99 in their first turn at bat.


Since then, when their captain has won the toss, New Zealand have been undefeated in 17 home tests, winning 10 of them.

While losing the toss isn't fatal to their chances – the Black Caps have also won three and drawn two of their last five home tests in which they lost the toss – for visiting sides, a lost toss is a seemingly insurmountable obstacle against a side who have come close to mastering their home conditions when given the choice to dictate terms.

All of which brings us to Hagley Oval, and a pitch which, two days out from the first ball of the second test, was so green that it was inviting to stick in a flagpole and bring out a putter.

It left little doubt what the winning captain will opt to do after the toss, and also little doubt over the significant advantage that side will have when they chose to bowl first.

Kohli lamented it as "an uncontrollable", arguing that "you can't really focus on that and take that as a massive factor", but with home teams becoming increasingly dominant in test cricket, the argument continues to circulate that the toss should be scrapped, and the visiting side allowed to pick whether to bat or bowl first.

Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli at the coin toss ahead of the first test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. Photo / Photosport
Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli at the coin toss ahead of the first test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. Photo / Photosport

Black Caps batting coach and Canterbury stalwart Peter Fulton knows better than most what to expect from the Christchurch pitch, though, perhaps careful of how his words could look if his side have to bat first, tried to downplay any doom that would come with losing the toss.

"Sometimes here, like in Wellington, the wicket can look really green but not actually seam around as much as you'd think, so you have to be a bit open-minded," Fulton argued.

"There'll be something there for the first couple of days at least, it's been pretty dry down here so who knows how long that moisture will last for, but that's generally been the history of test matches here – it seams around for the first couple of days then starts to flatten out. The first few days I'm sure there will be plenty of bounce as well as a little bit of seam movement."


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Fulton, a former test opener, knows the difficulty in batting first on a green wicket, but also believes there should be some rewards on offer to the unlucky bowlers who have to wait their turn before getting use of the favourable conditions.

"There's probably going to be something in there for the first innings of both teams - there's going to be something there for when it comes to your turn to bowl. Whether we win the toss or not, this team is pretty well established in terms of how they play their test cricket in New Zealand, so we're reasonably confident that we're equipped for batting or bowling first."

The same, at least for the last 11 years, cannot be said for their opponents.