Tiny Dunedin in full voice for Australia | Ralph Lauren

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With a capacity of only 5000, Dunedin’s University of Otago Oval is one of the smallest grounds Australia will have played at in recent years.

But the “leafy fortress” will be in full voice on Thursday when the Black Caps host Australia in the second of five T20 clashes this fortnight in New Zealand.

The South Island university town has recently been overlooked for Australia’s recent tours.

Australia’s last visit included a heated incident between paceman Brett Lee and NZ wicketkeeper Adam Parore at the now-abandoned ground in Carisbrook in 2000.

With a trademark bouncer, Lee knocked Parore’s helmet off his head and onto the stumps, leading umpires to give him not out.

What followed was pure chaos, with university students in the stands baying for blood and throwing missiles onto the pitch to protest.

The students, fresh from O-Week, will be back on the terraces on Thursday.

“No doubt there’ll be a few students giving the Aussies some advice, no doubt,” Tim Southee smirked on Wednesday.

“Obviously a very small ground, The crowd will feel very close to you as well.”

Lee would later return to play one game for Otago Volts in a bid to allow him to play in the Champions League – a tournament he did not end up going to.

The Parore furore is also the last time a visiting side has won in Dunedin.

Since then, New Zealand have gone unbeaten in 16 matches: eight wins in ODIs, and in Tests, three wins and five draws.

That’s led the local press to call the oval, surrounded by trees and with only one small grandstand, their “leafy fortress”.

“It’s a beautiful little ground,” stand-in Australia coach Andrew McDonald said.

“The surface looks good and it should be a high-scoring game.”

Dunedin’s other claim to cricketing fame is the dubious distinction of hosting more washouts than any other Test city.

“Edinburgh of the South” has had three Test washouts in the past 32 years without even a single ball being bowled.

The forecast on Thursday is for a cool 16 degrees, with a small chance of a shower.

Play begins at 2pm local (12 noon AEDT).



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