Auckland,(AP/UNB) – New Zealand won the toss and elected to bowl Thursday in the first cricket test against England at Eden Park that will see the return of allrounder Ben Stokes to the visitors’ lineup.The match is the first day-night, pink ball test to be played in New Zealand and the ninth to be played in any country.Captain Joe Root will bat at No. 3 in the England order after the omission of James Vince.Stokes will bat at No. 5. Root said it was not yet certain whether Stokes would bowl because of a back injury which made him a “day-by-day” proposition.It is Stokes’ first test in more than six months. Stokes missed the 4-0 Ashes defeat in Australia while he was waiting to hear if he would be charged following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September.
Only after he was charged with affray and then last month indicated a not-guilty plea in his first appearance in court, did the England and Wales Cricket Board confirm the 26-year-old Stokes could rejoin his teammates.
Craig Overton has been included with Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad and James Anderson in the England seam attack and Moeen Ali is the only specialist spinner.
Wicketkeeper B.J. Watling, who returns to the New Zealand team after injury, will bat at No. 6 ahead of allrounders Colin de Grandhomme and Todd Astle, who plays his third test and his first since 2016.
The match was due to begin in fine conditions, although showers were forecast later and for most of the first four days.
Questions remain about how the pink ball will perform in New Zealand conditions.
New Zealand: Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Kane Williamson (captain), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, B.J. Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, Todd Astle, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.
England: Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, Joe Root (captain), Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Craig Overton, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.
Umpires: Paul Reiffel and Bruce Oxenford, Australia.
TV umpire: Marais Erasmus, South Africa. Match referee: Richie Richardson, West Indies.UNB