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Conditions to dictate NZ bowling attack

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/11/2016 Daniel Gilhooly
Tim Southee © Sajjad Hussain/AFP Tim Southee

The wet weather which looks set to plague the first Test between New Zealand and Pakistan will also dictate the home team's final XI.

While the batting lineup for Hagley Oval is set in stone, including a debut to opener Jeet Raval, there remains conjecture over the three seamers to accompany recalled legspinner Todd Astle.

Tim Southee missed the 3-0 series loss in India with an ankle injury but his form in the subsequent one-day international series and a first-class fixture for Northern Districts suggest a return is imminent.

However, Southee's Test stocks have dipped since the highs of 2014, which may encourage the retention of Matt Henry, who toiled hard in India.

Sitting on 177 Test scalps, Southee says he is feeling fit and would welcome a return on a green-looking Christchurch surface.

"It's nice to come back to grounds you're familiar with and see some grass on the wicket," he said.

"But there's a healthy competition (among the seamers), it's a good problem to have."

Captain Kane Williamson says the moisture level of the pitch will dictate selection.

It will also be his key consideration at the toss. A firm surface will tempt him to bat first, with only some early zip to negotiate.

The weather forecast is grim for the first day but expected to clear for the remainder of the Test.

Trent Boult will lead the attack, with fellow left-armer Neil Wagner set to adopt the first-change role he has owned with success for the last 12 months.

Relying primarily on the short ball, Wagner has been the Black Caps most successful bowler, racing to 99 scalps in 25 Tests.

Williamson wouldn't say if surprise squad selection Colin de Grandhomme will win his first Test cap ahead of allrounder Jimmy Neesham.

He was happy to confirm that Raval will make his debut and said the 28-year-old domestic run glutton reminds him of the team's other opener, Tom Latham.

"Both are quite headstrong and both will be challenged in this series against a very good seam attack," Williamson said.

"But it's about not changing too much. He's been successful doing what he's done, applying a simple game plan for as long as you can."

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