The manner of Kane Williamson’s dismissal and a blow to the head of Henry Nicholls put the maiden Test wicket at Mount Maunganui under scrutiny with three days to play in the first Test between New Zealand and England on Friday.
In the first Test at the ground, the Bay Oval wicket showed signs of becoming unpredictable late on day two.
Although honours appeared even after the first two days, England believe if the wicket continues to deteriorate then they are in the box seat.
New Zealand go into day three on Saturday at 144 for four in reply to England’s first innings 353, but with senior batsmen Williamson and Ross Taylor already dismissed.
Williamson had cruised to 51, reaching his half-century with a boundary off Sam Curran, but fell on the next delivery which unexpectedly reared sharply, forcing the New Zealand skipper to take evasive action and the ball was gloved to second slip.
The dismissal even took Curran by surprise, but he saw it as a good omen.
“It probably took off a little bit more than the usual length but that’s a really good sign for us knowing we have runs on the board,” he said.
“The wicket may start being a bit uneven and fingers crossed that suits us and there can be a few more (wickets) and it gets worse as the game goes on, because most likely we’ll be bowling last.”
New Zealand’s senior bowler Tim Southee, who ignited the demise of the England middle and lower order when the pitch was playing true, said Williamson’s dismissal raised questions.
“That’s the unknown about playing a first Test match on this ground. He was looking reasonably comfortable and he got one that reared off a length which can happen,” Southee said, wary of having to bat last.
“If it does continue to deteriorate and we do start to see a bit more of it going up and down we’d like to get as many as we can in this innings.”