“It looks a little bit brown on the top but I think there is a bit of live grass underneath,” McCullum said about why he chose to bowl as the hosts chase their first series win over a major cricketing nation since 2006.
New Zealand’s victory at the Basin Reserve was spearheaded by left-arm seamer Trent Boult’s first 10-wicket haul in tests and McCullum said that was also a reason to bowl first as he sought to keep the pressure on the visitors’ batsmen.
“We have seen before at Hamilton that wickets can fall in a clump so from our point of view, we have been bowling well so will try to put them under pressure with the ball early on.
“We will try to take the confidence out of that win. The feeling in the dressing room after capturing that win, no-one will be able to forget.”
West Indies made one enforced change with off-spinner Sunil Narine brought in for Shane Shillingford, who was banned by the International Cricket Council after biomechanical analysis of his bowling action.
They also brought in Kraigg Braithwaite to open the innings in place of Darren Bravo who was a late withdrawal after being struck in the nets, which is a major blow to their batting depth.
Bravo anchored West Indies second innings in the drawn first test at University Oval in Dunedin with his first test double century.
West Indies captain Darren Sammy said he probably would have bowled had he won his third successive toss of the series.
In the first two tests he asked New Zealand to bat but his bowlers failed to exploit the green pitch conditions so selectors had decided to go with a twin-spin approach with left-armer Veerasammy Permaul replacing pace bowler Shannon Gabriel.
“When we have had the opportunity to bowl we haven’t exploited the conditions as well as we can,” Sammy said.
“To get wickets early is the goal of a test team and we have not been able to do that.
“Early morning we expect the pitch to do a little, so it’s up to our openers to assess the conditions early and give us a good start and the batters to come to follow their lead … and will look to put New Zealand under pressure.”
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (captain), Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, BJ Watling, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, Kirk Edwards, Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Denesh Ramdin, Sunil Narine, Veerasammy Permaul, Tino Best.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Ed Osmond)