New Zealand and South Africa begins a three-match Test series starting in Dunedin on Wednesday, March 8 with a close encounter predicted. Sridhar Bhamidi previews the opening test.
The Black Caps and Proteas played out a very close five-match ODI series, albeit bordering on inconsistent performances from both sides, as South Africa won 3-2 in the decider.
New Zealand v South Africa 1st Test Preview
New Zealand come off a home test series win against Bangladesh although they were made to work harder than expected. In fact, Bangladesh were guilty of not seizing key moments which otherwise could have seen the home side embarrassed.
The challenge now for the Kiwis is to patch their inconsistencies and the incentive is not just a chance to test themselves against a vastly superior opponent. A series win over South Africa could see the Kiwis climb up the ICC Test rankings where they are currently perched at fifth.
Batting will revolve around Kane Williamson and his concern would be over the form slump of Tom Latham – albeit in ODIs – at the top of the order. Ross Taylor will have a huge task too of shoring the middle order for the hosts.
The presence of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner makes it interesting for the Kiwis. Wagner’s experience on home pitches could prove crucial if they want to topple the Proteas.
Faf du Plessis will have one eye on the rankings too where a series win can help South Africa challenge Australia for the second spot. The Proteas come into this after a test series win over Sri Lanka where they were very impressive, albeit expected.
The presence of Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla gives solidity to the South African top order even before considering Du Plessis. JP Duminy has shaped up well in Tests over the last six months although Temba Bavuma will have some catching to do.
But it’s the presence of Quinton de Kock that gives an aggressive look to South Africa together with the bowlers who are no mugs with the bat. Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander will lead with the ball where Du Plessis is spoilt for choice in selecting a third seamer.
New Zealand v South Africa Stats
New Zealand have an unbeaten record at the University Oval in Dunedin having won three and drawn four earlier. But their record against South Africa is very poor having won just four and lost 24 in 42 Tests so far. At home too, they have won just once (back in Auckland 2004) while losing seven and drawing nine Tests.
New Zealand v South Africa Line-ups
Jeetan Patel will surely be warming up the bench for the Kiwis who will have to choose between Colin de Grandhomme and James Neesham.
Keshav Maharaj looks set to start given the penchant of Du Plessis for balancing his attack with a spinner. That leaves the returning Morne Morkel and Duanne Olivier fighting for one spot in the South Africa bowling attack.
New Zealand v South Africa Tips
The Kiwis are outsiders for a win in this match at odds of $3.75 (bet365
). The visitors, meanwhile, are $2.10 (Ladbrokes
) to win the game which looks a worthy punt given their record against New Zealand.
Wagner likes to pack a punch and could be itching to do so against the country of his berth. Back him at odds of $4.00 (Ladbrokes
) to be the hosts’ best bowler.
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