The BLACKCAPS train at the Basin Reserve. PHOTOSPORT

The Basin breakdown

The pitch
It’s sat under covers for the best part of three days and looks like the Green Machine we’re used to at the Basin Reserve. There’ll be the usual pace and bounce, but don’t expect anything too extreme. Be warned by the green tinge to the deck, it’s produced mixed results for the team bowling first. Australia rolled the BLACKCAPS for 183 on day one in 2016, but Bangladesh survived a rain affected opening day earlier this year before going on to plunder 595 runs … only to lose the Test #memorable

King Kane
The BLACKCAPS captain is one shy of Martin Crowe’s New Zealand record of 17 Test centuries and who would doubt he can tie the late great in the second Test? Number 16 was yet another effortless master piece from the right handed maestro who seems to have shaken any concerns of the captaincy affecting his batting. He’s also 63 runs shy of 5,000 Test runs and has ten innings to beat Crowe’s 117 innings record to reach the milestone.

The spin twins worked well in tandem in the second innings in Dunedin, but it seems unlikely both will play on the more seam friendly surroundings of the Basin. So the selectors have a decision between two quality spinners who bring different qualities and balance to the side. The experience and accuracy of Jeetan Patel or the consistency with the ball and prowess with the bat of Santner?

The feature stand has undergone some serious redevelopment and will be fully functional come Thursday. The old rusty roof and has been replaced and there’s nice new chairs with arm rests. The interior lounges will be next on the list for a do-up as they are upgraded over the winter. Good job!

Old debutant
At 33-years-old Otago batsman Neil Broom is set to make his Test debut replacing the injured Ross Taylor (calf). The experienced right hander’s enjoying his second coming to international cricket and he’ll complete the BLACKCAPS full format set when he pulls on Test black cap number 272 on Thursday. He may seem old but there’s at least five players we can find who debuted for New Zealand older, including Luke Ronchi at age 34, Tom Puna (36) and Herb McGirr heading the list at the ripe of old age of 38.

Horses for courses
After sitting out Dunedin and with a seam friendly pitch expected, Tim Southee seems destined to come back into the Xl in place of a spinner. But what about the all-rounders? Jimmy Neesham’s been in good touch with the bat this summer and showed very promising signs with the ball in the opening Test. However, Colin de Grandhomme’s an expert at nibbling the ball around on lively wickets and has shown promise with bat in hand this summer. Who’d be a selector!?

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