New Zealand win toss and bowl in 2nd Australia Test

Melbourne, Dec 26 (AFP/APP): New Zealand captain Kane Williamson won the toss and opted to bowl in the second Test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday.

The Black Caps, playing their first Boxing Test in Melbourne since 1987, made two changes to the team that was thrashed by 296 runs in the opening day-night clash at Perth.

Fast bowler Trent Boult returns from a rib injury to replace Lockie Ferguson while Tom Blundell will open the batting with out-of-form Jeet Ravel axed.

“There’s a lot of grass on the wicket and some overhead conditions as well so we’ll use it first up,” said Williamson.

“With our bowlers if we can get a bit of movement out of it first up that will be good.”

The home team were considering playing five specialist bowlers given the pitch has been lifeless during the past two Boxing Day Tests.

They have only gone down that road once in the past decade and resisted the temptation after a late pitch inspection.

That means middle-order batsman Travis Head retains his place, with James Pattinson in for the injured Josh Hazlewood and seamer Michael Neser missing out.

“I’m pretty happy we lost the toss to be honest. I wasn’t too sure what to do,” said Australia skipper Tim Paine. “Hopefully our top order can get the job done.”

Australia: David Warner, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (capt), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson

New Zealand: Tom Latham, Tom Blundell, Kane Williamson (capt), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner

Umpires: Nigel Llong (ENG), Marais Erasmus (RSA)

TV umpire: Aleem Dar (PAK)

Match referee: Richie Richardson (WIS).

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