PERTH (Reuters) – Australia captain Steve Smith won the toss and chose to bat first in the second test against New Zealand at the WACA in Perth on Friday.
Tim Southee, who suffered an irritated disc and was unable to bowl in Australia’s second innings in the opening test, was passed fit to play and took his place in a four-pronged New Zealand pace attack.
“We’ve got four seamers so hopefully we can bowl better than we did at the Gabba and try and take some early wickets,” said New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum.
Black Caps seamer Matt Henry replaces all-rounder James Neesham, who was ruled out of the rest of the series after he too suffered a back injury in the first test.
Wicketkeeper BJ Watling will move up the order to bat at number six with quick Doug Bracewell in the all-rounder role at seven ahead of spinner Mark Craig.
The hosts, who were unchanged, won the first test by 208 runs in Brisbane on Monday and could wrap up the three-match series with a victory in Perth.
“We’ll have a bat,” said Smith. “It looks a nice track. A little bit tacky so it’ll be important to get through that first hour.
“It’s nice to have a bit of success to start it off and hopefully we can back that up this week.”
The WACA wicket is expected to offer its traditional pace and bounce with temperatures forecast to reach 34 degrees Celsius on the first two days of the match.
Australia decided to stick to a three-strong pace attack with left-armers Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc likely to take the new ball and Josh Hazlewood coming on at first change.
The series concludes with the inaugural day-night test match at the Adelaide Oval.
Australia: David Warner, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (captain), Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill (wicketkeeper), Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon.
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum (captain), BJ Watling (wicketkeeper), Doug Bracewell, Mark Craig, Matt Henry, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.
(Writing by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford)