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New Zealand won the toss and sent England into bat on the first day of the opening Test at University Oval on Wednesday.
New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum said he was looking for early wickets in overcast conditions which are expected to help the Black Caps' seamers swing the ball.
England retained Nick Compton as opening batsman, despite his failure in a warm-up loss to a New Zealand XI last week, and called in spinner Monty Panesar after Graeme Swann withdrew at the last minute due to an elbow injury.
The New Zealand attack has three seamers and spinner Bruce Martin making his debut, as well as a new opening batting partnership featuring debutant Hamish Rutherford and Peter Fulton.
The tourists are firm favourites for the three-Test series. New Zealand, ranked eighth in Test cricket, have not won a series against England since 1999, with their sole series victory on home soil back in 1984.
New Zealand: Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Dean Brownlie, Brendon McCullum (captain), BJ Watling, Tim Southee, Bruce Martin, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.
England: Alastair Cook (captain), Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Steve Finn, James Anderson, Monty Panesar.
Umpires: Asad Rauf (PAK), Paul Reiffel (AUS)
TV umpire: Rod Tucker (AUS)
Match referee: Roshan Mahanama (SRI)